Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Never underestimate the power of your words.

In the whirlwind that is life in this day and age our human connections are often reduced to emails, phone tag and text message conversations filled with emojis. Real human interaction can seem like a dying art form and the impact your words can have on the people around you can seem to lose importance. Often we give advice to friends assuming they won’t take it or make a flippant remark believing people don’t listen anymore. But I can tell you, words have power.  

A few months ago I heard that the Vice Principal of my old high school passed away. It’s been 21 years since I left school and when I think back to my time there I think of everything frozen in time, as if the teachers, the school have been put into a time capsule. So I was a shocked when I heard of his passing. I didn’t have a close relationship with him at all, I never even had a class with him. I had one interaction with him, it was in the transition into the senior years at high school when I was questioning my subject choices. I went into his office with my Dad and spoke to him about my ‘buyer’s remorse’ on the subjects I had chosen. I had chosen my subjects based on what my friends were doing, not on what I actually wanted to do, or whether I was actually any good at them. I sat in the first few weeks of Chemistry and Maths A realising that although I was surrounded by friends I felt alone. Completely disconnected to where I was and it dawned on me, I had made the wrong decision

For someone who moved schools quite a lot, choosing to move classes away from my friends was a big decision. I discussed it with the Vice Principal and he was understanding, he gave me words of support telling me that if I felt it was the right decision it would be ok. 

The meeting was probably only 15 minutes long but when I think back to that day I often see it as a sign post in my life, it was the first time I had to make an adult decision. The first time I went with my gut, not what I felt others expected me to do. Making the decision itself filled me with anxiety. But in the first lesson of my new subjects I knew I had made the right decision, the uneasiness was gone and I felt empowered by taking control of my future.

This was, I’m sure, a completely forgettable meeting for him. It certainly wouldn’t have been one he was reflecting on years later. But here I am 23 years on looking back to that day. Fondly thinking how this teacher’s supportive, spoken words had a big impact on me. 

It is easy to doubt your importance in this world, but everyone has had moments like this, moments when the words of a teacher, a parent, a friend or even a stranger have influenced you. On the days where you feel like just a tiny speck in the world, remember you have been that person for others too and your words may have changed the course of someone’s life, without you even knowing.

Vale Mr Roberts. 

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