I’m writing this on my study table—that recently lived up to its name and purpose, after serving as a wooden furniture in which we dump freshly washed clothes, crumpled handouts and receipts—before I finally review today because these thoughts intermittently interrupt my concentration.
But we all know I’m postponing the inevitable. Before I study, I said I must exercise and take a bath. After, I figured I must have a slice of banana cake and a bottle of water because I turn into this cranky young adult whenever I’m on the brink of experiencing hypoglycemia and dehydration. Now, I’m typing this post instead of answering the practice set. Last prerequisite, I promise.
Last Thursday, I shared my plans of entering med school on Instagram and Facebook. Doing so seems natural for most people, as both platforms usually contain life milestones they’d want their family and friends to know. It took me more than an hour to decide if I should announce it. “What if some people will think I’m bragging?” “Am I sharing too much information about myself?” “Will people even care?”
Ultimately, I decided it is worth posting because a) some friends and acquaintances might find my words valuable in contemplating on a life-changing decision, and b) I’d like to update my close friends and relatives living outside the city about my life. See, this is why social media detox is important; when I see updates of people I won’t even acknowledge in real life, I feel superficial and shallow. Anyway, truth be told, I’m quite ashamed of the mental energy I spent on such post. (Don’t worry, I won’t be that person who incessantly chronicles every study session and floods your News Feed with his goal instead of accomplishing it.)
I was surprised how simple comments such as “Go for it!” and “You can do it!” could uplift my spirits, although many people are unaware of my internal struggles. My mother told me she met my former teacher and, upon knowing about my plans, this teacher who I highly regard as a mentor, said she believes I can do it. Indeed, meanings are in people—neither in words nor actions.
These are words spoken as automatically as “I’m okay” when a person is asked how he’s doing. Yet I was genuinely surprised on the surge of encouragement that enveloped me. I asked myself, “Do I really need external validation to motivate myself?” The answer is: no. I’ve relied on internal motivation for as long as I can remember, but such words remind me that I’m not alone. That my goal, when realized, could add value to the lives of people behind these words.
Words are powerful.
In our home, I noticed how terrible I would feel after saying words that could crush one’s self-esteem during a heated discussion. I have been trying to be more aware and careful of the words I say. Just because I thought of it, doesn’t mean I have to say it.
Lately, my patience is being measured every day as my 84-year-old grandmother grows suspicious of her friends and acquaintances i.e. our house help stole her phone, when, in fact, my Lola accidentally placed it in the shoe rack. My mother says such behavior is natural for elderly people, especially when they could develop dementia. My brother could be stubborn, too, as ‘later’ is his favorite word in the vocabulary; the next thing we know, he has forgotten to throw piles of trash and clean a lot of dishes.
With all self-control and mindfulness I can muster in a situation that tests my character, I think, “How will my words help this person? What difference will it make? Does s/he need to know about what I’ll say?” In the same line, I thought: If I can express harsh remarks without thinking twice, how come I don’t do the same with inspiring words?
Tell your parents you love them only because you can’t remember the last time you did. Check how your best friend is doing. Cheer up your sibling who has been acting distracted. Encourage a friend who’s pursuing a path s/he has always wanted since grade school.
Actions speak louder than words, yes. Other times, words—that remind us we are full of potential, and we can achieve anything we set our mind on—push us to finally take action.
Just say it, not only to the people around you but also to yourself.