Stupid, Fat, Ugly, Bi….
I often credit my working in dispatch as a main motivator in creating the #BeAnEncourager Brand, but truth be told, it goes back further and deeper than that.
Ten years ago, (ouch that hurts a little to say) I was a fresh-faced freshman in college out of my parent’s house and starting the journey to find my own place in the world. Now, for anyone who knows me, sarcasm is my primary love language, (Like Halcyon + Sarcasm = BFFs Fo Eva), and this was true back then as well. I love my quick wit and it works well; seeing people laugh is truly one of my most favorite things.
The exchange started innocent enough. I posted a Facebook picture with the guy I was seeing at the time and his friends. The college aged boys that they were, had comments to make about it. Well, me being me, I had my own witty responses to fire back. I can’t tell you exactly what was said or even why it seemed to escalate so quickly, but I do remember typing a simple jab about him thinking I was cute or something. Perfectly harmless come back…or so I thought.
What happened next is something that I will probably remember until the day I leave this earth. I don’t remember how I found out about the video or who told me what, but I did find out and heard the terrible things that were said about me.
My seemingly innocent comeback compelled the other guy and his friends (who at the time I thought were also my friends), to create an eight-minute Facebook video about how I was a stupid, fat, ugly, b*tch.
That’s right. EIGHT minutes of them tearing me down piece by piece, from my looks to the clothes I wore, to who I was as a person.
As a 19-year-old freshman it was devastating. It struck me in every insecurity I had, and I was hurt and angry beyond anything a physical reaction could convey.
I never did watch the full video. My parents did though. And I can honestly say knowing my parents watched that hurt me more than anything. I can’t imagine hearing those terrible things being said about your child and not really having any recourse or outlet for the anger. Even as I write this, it brings tears to my eyes thinking about what they must have felt.
The school did little as they didn’t have much authority or desire to help. Social media wasn’t as big as it is now, so little was developed in the way of code of conducts when it came to the different platforms. I sat and listened to the primary offender give a half-hearted apology as I sobbed and asked him how he would feel if someone did this to his sister.
It was only recently that I truly realized how this event has subtly motivated me over the years and is a driving force behind the brand. I remember the words that were said about me and think to myself, “people have killed themselves over less.” Teenage girls (and guys) are harming, starving, and even ending their lives over bullies and their vitriol. Some days I have to put my phone down and walk away because of all the negativity and hatred I see spread online, not to mention the amount of it that has been spread in-person in recent times.
Being an encourager isn’t just about saying uplifting things, but also recognizing the power our words have. I’m sure anyone reading this can think back 10 or 20 years ago (maybe more) and remember something someone said that hurt them. So, as we leave this crapfest of a year behind, take a look at how you’re using your words. Are they hurting or healing? Breaking people down or uplifting? I struggle as much as the next person and sometimes my sarcasm and wit aren’t used for good, but my mission is truly to uplift more than anything.
Let’s make 2021 the year the power of words was used for good. The year we healed more than we hurt.