Even Those Words Can Heal

Popular YouTuber Grace Helbig on Mary Laura Philpott’s blog “What I’ve Learned From 28 Brilliant Creators” says when she first started out, she wish she had known “that no one has any idea what they’re doing.”


I have regrouped since Tuesday, since learning I’ve been turned down again for several PhD programs. Binge watched the entire season two of Daredevil; thank you Netflix for being there. Binge ate chocolate covered chocolate chip cookies without the accompaniment of milk, because I live dangerously like that. And burned through too many packs of cigarettes.

A fellow blogger, student of mine—friend—reacted to Wednesday’s post about defeat, perceived failure, and humor in a way I did not expect. On my Facebook page, she wrote “Hang in there…you will find your way.” Then she immediately followed with another comment: “I am sorry my words are so trite.” Then, she wrote an entire blog post.

What my friend wrote was not trite.
Tweet: What my friend wrote was not trite. http://ctt.ec/yr53_+ via @SteveBargdill

It was along the lines of what everyone else said:

“You can do it!!”
“Good luck, Steve. If the PhD isn’t in the works this year, something good is.”
“It’ll happen. Wait and see.”
“I’m sorry.”

Someone even asked what I would tell my students, and that comment—well, that comment angered me; left me breathless like a punch to the throat. Because of course I would tell my students keep trying, go after what you want, chase your passion with all your heart. So many useless words. Empty. Meaningless. Without thought. Placating at best.

There is so much tragedy in the world: war, death, sickness, pain, disappointment. When you fall across the path of someone else’s heartache no matter how seemingly insignificant or unimportant in the grander scheme of humanity, we all center in around ourselves, the earth crumbles beneath our feet, we are left dangling, trying to grasp ledges that do not entirely exist. We look toward hope. We struggle on. And often, all we have to offer each other are words.

And only words can begin a war. Only words can say, “I love you.”

Words hold power. Words change the course of history. Words become flesh and dwell among us. And even though we so often do not know what we are doing, even trite words spoken in haste, without deep, contemplative thought, even those words, if they come from the right place, can heal.


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