Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Things People Say

Last night our family went to a family night sponsored by our church. These nights are so much fun because the kids go off and play together and the adults can sit around and chat and play games. I was talking to a friend of mine (who shall remain anonymous because I didn't get permission to share her story) who relayed a comment that someone had made to her in college about the way she ran. Several years later, she still remembers that comment when she runs. That got me thinking about the different comments people have made to me throughout the years, some complimentary, some innocent, and some purposefully mean, that still stay with me today and either affect the way I feel about a certain characteristic of mine or make me feel quite self conscious when that characteristic is displayed.

For example, I had just started wearing makeup in high school. I put on some makeup one night to go to J.C. Bodyshop, our youth group, and when our youth sponsor's wife saw me, she asked me if I had a cold because my cheeks looked flushed. I don't wear a lot of makeup now, but if I am going to put blush on, I put it on very lightly because of that comment.

When I was a freshman in college, we had visitation nights every once in awhile in the dorm where guys could visit our room. My friend Ryan was visiting us one night, and I happened to be wearing a white pair of shorts and a white t-shirt. I will never forget him telling me that wearing white on white is a faux pas (spelling?), and to this day, I have never worn white on white again. In fact, I almost don't even buy white shorts or sweats because since most of my t-shirts are white, I don't know what I will wear with them.

I have another freshman example. The first week of college, I was in the student center, and a guy that I thought was pretty cute asked me to play ping pong with him. Each time we would try to start the game, I would win the first point, and he would say, "Okay, now we are going to start the game." Not wanting to argue with the cute guy, but also wanting to win, I kept saying okay. After about the tenth point, he said to me "You are so cocky." He was calling me cocky because I obviously thought I was going to beat him if I kept letting him start the game over (I did know I was going to beat him.) That comment has stayed with me since then, and when I am in a competitive situation (with someone other than family,) I try overly hard to not come across as cocky. Oh, and the cute guy ended up being a real jerk anyway, so I am glad I beat him easily.

In high school, one comment from my assistant basketball coach completely changed the way I played basketball. Up to that point, I was mostly known as and used as an outside shooter. However, my junior year, I needed to step up my game and produce in other areas of the game. In practice one evening, I pulled down an offensive rebound, and instead of going back up strong with the put back, I kicked it back out to our guard. I will never forget her yelling at the top of her lungs, "Porter, quit being such a wimp and put the ball back in the basket." Here I thought I did a great job grabbing the rebound, but she was getting on me for not going beyond what I thought I could do. From that point on, I became a much more aggressive player, and in college, many of my points came from offensive rebounds (because each time Jill S. got the ball, I automatically got myself in rebounding position because I knew she was going to shoot.)

I remember in college talking to Dr. Huffman at length one day about my future and if social work was really what I wanted to pursue a career in. I was feeling inadequate in my ability to be a good social worker, and I was wondering if I should have gone into a field where success in the job is measured more concretely. I said maybe I should have been in a field that uses math, where I know if I have gotten the right answer or not. I will never forget Judy saying to me, "Deb, you are scared to become a social worker because you think you have to be the best social worker in the world or you will fail. You don't always have to be the best at something to be where God wants you to be." Her saying that made me realize that just because I am not the best at something doesn't mean I am a failure at it, and I don't HAVE to be the best at everything. I'll have to admit, I still struggle with that because I am so competitive, and I am not the best at anything, so I have to continually remind myself of her words.

My brother had a funny recollection of a comment. He said when he started junior high, someone said to him "I'd rather be dead than be a redhead."

Elizabeth, my 7 year old, was crying one day after school this past Christmas time. On the bus on the way home, the bus driver was letting volunteers sing Christmas songs in the microphone. Elizabeth wanted to sing Rudolph, but two lines into the song, the older kids on the bus started to boo, so she stopped. As a third grader was exiting the bus, he turned to her and said, "You are a terrible singer." This crushed Elizabeth. Elizabeth isn't the best singer in the world, but she isn't the worst, either, and I certainly don't want her to ever feel self conscious as a child about singing. Needless to say, I wanted to find that little boy and tell him a thing or to, but I realize that this is the first of many times that my children will here something negative directed towards them, and they will have to remember the positives instead. Since Jason and I are still the ones directly influencing our children the most, it is our responsibility to keep building them up so their self esteem can handle stupid comments from kids.

I would relay some of the positive comments people have said to me through the years that have made an impact on me, but since I don't want to come across as cocky, I won't.


Blogger Toevs Family said...

I just drafted a post on my blog similar to yours. You beat me to it... You win. :-)

March 03, 2007 10:24 AM  
Blogger Keetha said...

Words always hurt far more and the hurt lasts far longer than wounds inflicted by sticks and stones - - - - -

March 03, 2007 11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So all those times at married couples when you acted like I was a great competitor at ping pong you were really laughing thinking, "I'm gonna beat this non-hip moving runner". Thanks Deb, I'll always remember that.

Kelly Pickler

March 03, 2007 11:32 PM  
Blogger Anon said...

hahaha to Kelly Pickler

We really need to keep the Fun Family Friday nights going. I love seeing everyone that shows up to those.

Yes, I remember in 4th grade a girl announced to everyone in the bathroom that I didn't flush the toilet, when I did. I told her to go in and look, but she didn't. So, for the longest time, I'd make sure that flushing the toilet happened prior to opening the stall door to exit. How dumb is that?

March 04, 2007 5:45 PM  
Blogger Anon said...

Okay, let's talk about the things people say.

My son is reading a health book to his baby sister that he just picked out at the library yesterday. I hear him say that blubber protects the bones and muscles in your body like when you fall off your bike, or trip, etc. Then I hear him say, "Now too much blubber is not good or else you'll be fat like Mom." :) That's awful!

Hey, my kids just like to keep it real. What can I say? I work at it all the time. I wish I was like my husband, but I'm not, that's just the facts of life.

March 04, 2007 7:11 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Anon! That's terrible. I guess he's got about five or six more years before he is going to have to be more sensitive to impress the ladies.

March 04, 2007 8:52 PM  
Blogger Kelley said...

Loved this post! I have been racking my brain for a few life-altering comments I could share, but I can't really think of any. I have an uncle who always called me "chubette" when he saw me. I hated that. All the boy cousins thought it was pretty funny. Like Anon, my neice and nephew have kept it real a few times as well. One positive comment that was life-alterning was when Anon and I went to the French Market in Columbus to make vocal recordings. I sang a very low "We'll Stand Together" and one lady who heard it being played back said I sounded like Karen Carpenter. I was already a fan, but I became a Karen Carpenter Fanatic. I listened to my Captenters record all the time and even bought a song book so I could learn to play their songs on the piano. I would belt it out like nobody's business. :)

March 05, 2007 10:08 AM  
Blogger Bekah said...

I loved this post! So true!!! I still remember some really horrid things from high school - and if I ran into some of those people now, I'd hide! Silly, isn't it?

March 05, 2007 3:39 PM  
Blogger Kelley said...

Here's your #9! Get with it!

March 16, 2007 7:48 AM  

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