Nathaniel Hawthorne said, “Words–so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”
The power of words can be immeasurable. They can come together to express our thoughts and feelings and they can incite thoughts and feelings within us.
I didn’t learn the English language until I was almost eight years old when my Mom moved us to Chicago from Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always easy. I said jello instead of yellow and birfday instead of birthday. Being the perfectionist that I was, I was embarrassed when my new classmates teased me about my mispronunciation of these words. I buried myself in books and read, wrote and practiced endlessly, determined to speak my new language flawlessly.
It was during that time that I discovered my love of words, specifically the written word. I was not only amazed at reading words written by others, but by my own ability to put those very same words together on paper to communicate the thoughts in my mind . With the written word I could express the thoughts, that being the severely shy child I was, I couldn’t speak out loud. My fourth grade `fictional` account of a girl whose teacher forgot to announce her birthday to her class, was a not-so-subtle hint to my teacher that SHE forgot my birthday. My poem I`ve Got to Stop Eating written at 15 expressed the beginnings of teenage insecurities and angst. Dreams expressed a 19 year old`s sadness over the loss of chidhood dreams.
I used to write everyday; endless prose in journals that described the `me` no one else knew. I also shared my writing in poems for and about friends. Somewhere along the way I began to judge my words and feared that others would judge them as well. I feared that they would think me vain for sharing my thoughts and giving them importance. I, the fearless one, felt fear and so I let go of that part of me and in turn lost a passion.
But a few years back, I became re- inspired by Marianne Williamson’s (Nelson Mandela’s?) words:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate . Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won`t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I decided that it was time to find my voice again. I started writing more, but most importantly, I started sharing, though at first only with those closest to me. It was like being reunited with the childhood sweetheart with whom I’d made a pact to marry each other someday.
It doesn’t get easier. Each and every single time I click publish the butterflies begin their dance in the depths of my stomach, and my mind reels with questions: “Why did I write about that?” Why would anyone care to read about that?” But then, someone reads what I wrote and leaves a positive comment, or emails me privately to tell me that it’s just what they needed to read today, and I feel stronger and more powerful for having faced and conquered my fear for that day. I feel like a super hero, because if I had a superpower, it word be words.