Five or six years ago, Sandra Bullock received awards for her performance in The Blind Side. She also received awards for her performance in All About Steve. The difference was that her awards for the former were because of how great everyone thought it was and the latter because of how terrible everyone thought it was.
I’m one of the only people on this planet that actually really enjoys All About Steve. Truth be told, I don’t understand why people don’t like it. I think it’s funny and smart. And it’s different. It’s about a woman named Mary who isn’t normal (e.g., her bright red boots, her festive vocabulary, her hamster named Carol). Mary goes on a date with a guy named Steve, a camera man on a news team, and obsesses over him. She loses her job as a crossword constructor at a local newspaper and follows Steve and his team around the country. Eventually, Mary realizes that she likes being abnormal and doesn’t need (or maybe even want) Steve.
Part of what I love about this movie is what Mary has to say about words. Mary works with words. They are how she makes her living and are a huge part of her life. When someone says there are no words to describe something, she replies, “Oh, but there are. There are always words.” She talks about how some words are boring while others are fun (“go” vs. “vamoose”). She also says, “There are meaningful words, there are pointless words, and then there are words that hurt.”
Stephen King’s book On Writing is partially a memoir and partially about the craft of writing. In a section about description, he writes:
Description begins with visualization of what it is you want the reader to experience. It ends with your translating what you see in your mind into words on the page. It’s far from easy. As I say, we’ve all heard someone say, “Man, it was so great (or so horrible/strange/funny)…I just can’t describe it!” If you want to be a successful writer, you must be able to describe it, and in a way that will cause your reader to prickle with recognition. If you can do this, you will be paid for your labors, and deservedly so. If you can’t, you’re going to collect a lot of rejection slips and perhaps explore a career in the fascinating world of telemarketing.
Words have power, both to portray how we see something or to explain what we mean. They’re extremely important because they are the main way we express ourselves, declare our thoughts, and communicate.
On top of writing, I do a lot of talking and even more thinking. I have a lot of words flying around, and some of them are directed at myself. The question is, what kind of words am I directing at myself?
If I’d asked that question a year ago, the answer would’ve been alternatingly negative and positive. The words that I used to say to myself and about myself depended on what sort of mood I was in. My self-talk was very circumstantial. If the rest of the world was beating me up, I’d beat myself up too. Like I deserved it. Like if I could hurt myself more than anyone else, nothing else could actually hurt me.
What about language that I don’t speak to myself, but that I direct towards myself? Like the music I choose to listen to or the people I choose to listen to. That’s also important. What’s more important there, though, is not the language itself so much as how the language makes you feel.
For example, take the song “Me” by The 1975. It’s one of my all-time favorite songs, and it’s very negative. What few lyrics are there are not lyrics designed to make you think of sunshine and happiness. Lines in this song include, “You see my face like a heart attack,” “I’m sorry, but I’d rather be getting high than watching my family die,” and “Oh, I was think about killing myself.”
I repeat, this is one of my favorite songs. That’s because when I’m at my lowest, the melancholy music and the sorrowful lyrics sympathize with me. They may sound depressing to someone else, but to me, they tell me I’m not alone. It’s like someone else understands me and is wrapping his arms around my shoulder. It may sound odd, but I find the song comforting.
The beauty is that you could listen to the same song and not like it, and that’s perfectly fine. Music speaks to us all differently. You may want something uplifting when you’re down. That would make you feel better. What makes me feel better is knowing other people are or have been just as far down as me.
And what about the people we surround ourselves with? I would say to surround yourself with those who will comfort you and encourage you in the best ways. Don’t hang around with those who pull you down when you’re trying to stand. Sure, they can sit with you at the bottom, but only if they intend to help you get back up.
And I want you to know, more than anything, what God says about you. The words He chose to direct at you in His Word are only positive and beautiful. He has great plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11). He wants you to live a full, eventful life (John 10:10). He wants to take care of you (Matthew 6:25-34). He wants you to be strong and empowered through Him (Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 40:31). He says we’re not alone (Matthew 28:20). And there is nothing that can stop His love for us (Romans 8:38-39).
The only thing more important than what you say about yourself is what God says about you. God says that you’re loved and that you’re worth it. And He wants you to feel that way about yourself.
That’s incredibly difficult. But I’m a living example that it can happen. Just believe God and turn to Him. Read and reread verses that prove how valued you are. Surround yourself with people who will make you feel loved and encourage you. Listen to things that make you happy you’re here and walking on this earth, whether it’s a tune you like to dance to or words you like to cry to. Let all of the messages and words in your life be positive, loving ones.
By Carrie Prevette