Recently, driving down one of those familiar country roads, I had a conversation with my mother. We spent the journey reflecting on the day which somehow turned our attention onto the things that strangers have said to use that have made a long lasting impact on our individual perspectives and have changed who we have become.
I would like to preface that just recently I have finally realized that much of the thoughts I hold as pivotal to who I am have been heavily influenced by those around me. There are great life-altering statements that change our view of ourselves and the world. Yet so often people have ulterior motives in sharing their thoughts of us, often in the form of criticism coming from a place of intentional harm and superiority. I have spent most of my life holding negative, intrusive and harmful statements forced upon me as gospel and I have been living my life in shame because of it.
So at this point, I will ask you to consider your own relationship with shame and in assessing this, perhaps recognize that shame works to regulate our social systems and to establish dominance amongst one another. In this new year, perhaps it is time to let go of the burdens we carry that are imposed upon us by others. Losing that weight offers vast new perspectives for us all. Stop letting the burden of others' distorted egos harm the way you view yourself. This piece is not meant to linger on the subject of shame for too long, instead, I simply want to preface my article with this statement. Not everything that people tell us is worth noting, especially the statements that sting and cling to our psyche like a parasite. Be weary of the burrs that cling the tightest.
I took to Instagram and Facebook to see what my friends had to say about the subject of ‘statements which changed our perspective’ and I am not surprised at how many delightful tidbits were shared. So for the remainder of this piece, I will share with you these helpful statements so that perhaps you can reflect on them and your own similar experiences. We should remember the people who have changed our lives for the better, with nothing but their words.
A truth we all must learn in time: “never judge a book by its cover”. ~ A church friend, Carol Merril.
For those who are pressing on forward past hard times: “Don't look back as we can't change anything but one can learn from their mistakes.” ~ A church friend, Patsy Prescott.
For everyone: “Young see life ahead, the Old see life behind.. all the others are too busy with life to see at all…” ~ A neighbor, Scott Morris.
For the prospective hire: “Stop being so nervous about entering a job interview! Yes, they ARE grilling you to see if you’re good enough for their company, but when they ask, do you have any questions for us?, grill them to find out if THEY are good enough for YOU! Advice that landed me great gigs ( and cost me just a couple ).” ~ A neighbor, Steve Buskard.
What I’m convinced is the true meaning of life: “Our most important job is to love ourselves and have fun.” ~ A friend, therapist, and spiritual advisor Mara Young.
For the artist, but perhaps we all have our own symbolic paint brushes we need to clean or reflect on in different ways each day: “Always clean your paint brushes at the end of the day.” ~ My Aunt, Catherine Ring.
For the musician: “We use music to accompany our life.” ~ I heard this on the Dolly Parton’s America Podcast and it really stuck, Jad Abumrad.
For the realist: “Expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed” ~ My late great-grandfather, who I’ve heard was quite the strong German man. I live by these words and they have helped me lower my expectations, which is healthy for all of us to do.
These next three points come from Evan Bee on Instagram whose words truly struck me.
"Your best looks different every day". They offered context by saying “we are all doing our best every day, but our best doesn't look the same. Many of us tell ourselves we aren't trying our best when we only do half the dishes because three days ago we were able to do all of the dishes. Our best looks different every day because our mental health isn't linear.”
"Ask without expectations"
“People who ask with expectations of what the answer will be are more likely to be upset with the answer if it isn't what they wanted. When you ask without expectations, your relationships can be healthier and happier because you aren't expecting a specific answer from the other person.” In my own experience, having realistic expectations has never done me harm, because anything other than nothing is truly a gift. Curbing our disappointment is difficult at first, but as we learn to go with the ebb and flow of our emotions we can live our most genuine lives. This is a big lesson we all must learn”.
Don’t take living too seriously. You have one shot, you should make it your own. Everyone is faking it. Once you realize this, there is far less pressure to live up to expectations.
“Once we learn how to live our lives it’s too late”. ~ The incredibly talented artist and QU alum, Lauren Spelmer.
Something we sometimes need to be reminded of: “Life has a hopeful undertone.” ~ Aspiring Musician and Friend, Isaac Stacey. Inspired by this lyric from the song Migraine by Twenty One Pilots.
A sobering reminder: “Time keeps marching on.” ~ My dear friend, Emma Goodman.
A reminder we need because at times, people can say terrible things that we need not let get to us: “What someone says about you is none of your business, people talk it's what they do.” ~ My lovely friend Brandon Berry.
This reminded me of something my granny always used to say to me: “If they’re talking about you, they’re giving someone else a break.” Humans really are social creatures. Sometimes we gain each other's trust by bashing others; it is not a kind trait but it remains part of the human condition. These points emphasize how little you should take the things others say about you seriously. And with that, f*ck them if they can’t take a joke.
Here’s a funny statement that bounces around my brain: “you can’t hold in what you can’t hold in the palm of your hand. Church or Chapel, let it rattle.” ~ My gassy grandma. It really shows that you need not take yourself too seriously. When our egos become enlarged, it takes something as simple and natural as a fart to bring us back to Earth.
For the student: “It’ll be easier to go back to school for something sensible at 50 and follow passions now.”~ Musician, Brayah Pickard.
For the broke student: “Your education is an investment in yourself, don’t be afraid of the high price tag because your returns will be greater than anything you put into it.” ~ My highschool law teacher, Mr. Simmonds, told me this and it has stuck with me. As someone racking up student debt, broke, and at times discouraged, I remember these words and stick to working towards my dreams.
Something I think about often is: “learn[ing] to accept the things you cannot change.” Giving in to the constant ebb and flow of life is quite freeing and perhaps those bridges were meant to be burned. It is hard to realize how much we have grown from our pain when we are hurting. Looking back at yourself, being nostalgic, you truly observe a totally different version of yourself. We are designed to grow constantly and growing hurts sometimes, but feeling is truly one of the things that makes life beautiful and special.
I hope that at least one of these statements touched you in some way today and that you can remember the special people and conversations that changed your worldview. I want to offer a huge thanks to everyone who shared these statements as they have offered me guidance and an opportunity to reflect on my own life.
There is so much to learn in this life; do it unapologetically with gusto. I wish you the best on your path forward into the future, I hope this will help you reflect on the conversations you have had especially now, at a time where we are separated from each other due to the pandemic.
Reflecting on missing humanity, I miss falling in love with the world everyday, in the simple moments like waiting for the bus or sitting in a bustling cafe, feeling the world spin by. We are constantly surrounded by complex people living equally complex lives and each one is precious and beautiful. I am truly a people person. I fall in love with the world in the simplest moments and truly miss convening and congregating with strangers. Those passive, futile moments are what I crave most in all of this. The momentary conversations, seeing people's lives unfold in front of you, outrageous and monotonous, it is momentary, yet so intimate. It stings to lose these moments to the pandemic.
Sharing these little tidbits from strangers felt very therapeutic to me because it offered me the solace of seeing the potent and beautiful humanity in all of us. I am in love with this world, even on my worst days. I am pleasantly surprised by strangers who even in showing me a smile in passing make my day better. We are passive creatures, making our marks on eachother in the most beautiful, mundane ways. I love it, I miss experiencing the world in full swing. I hope we can be together again soon.
If you have your own statement you would like to share please contact me, I would truly love to hear from you.
Best wishes, Sara.