By: Sara Lowery

Confession: I am a lazy person when it comes to buying gifts and so my personal saving grace is gift cards. But now whenever I am buying gift cards it makes me think of a story from my life, that reinforced my opinion that Words Matter.

It was right before the holidays and I was in Victoria Secrets getting…you guessed it a gift card. While in the store I notice that the sales associate was staring right at me. Wondering if I did something wrong, I put on my million-dollar smile and said, “Hi, Ms. Sales Associate happy holidays.”

She moved over closer and stated that I didn’t know her, but she knew me. Taken back a bit I questioned how she knew me. She said she saw me speak when she was in the 10th grade and that I inspire her so much she changed her mind and started working to attend college. In fact, she wanted to attend the college that I was working for at the time. Well after shedding so many tears in the bra illusion section of the store, I finally got around to asking her what she is doing now.

She shared that she just completed her first semester at the school of her wishes and excited about going back. Me I am just stunned that something I said, had an impact on their life. After I was about to come to grips with what had just happened, I had this thought, “Do we really know how our words, conversations, passing phrases matter to people.”

What these moments mean for some could be completely different for others. And because we are always in a rush or we have so many other things on our mind we put words out in the atmosphere and really never know or even sometimes care how they may land and affect those around us.
How often do we say something positive or negative that people may take seriously, for instance, we tell people we hate them as a joke, but what if that person is in a really dark space and really think deep down inside you may really hate them. Or we do not give acknowledgment when others are waiting for us to simply say they did a great job to feel a sense of value and worth.

I once heard someone say they were really down and out and needed their friends and their friends never showed up for them. I then ask did you tell them that you needed them, and their response was no but they should have known. I wonder how many times we ourselves have had those expectations and found ourselves in lonely positions because our friends “weren’t” there. When in fact we all have a part to play if we need the support, we need to find our voice and the strength to reach out for those we trust. And if we are the ones that we are being reached for we have the responsibility to respond immediately with love and compassion. Because it is at that moment our words matter and we may never realize it.

I never knew my Victoria Secret friend existed, but she created a life plan of action based off of what she heard me say in a speech. She even enrolled into a college because she heard me say it was a great school (and I am so glad they lived up to the hype).

But what I now have to remember is that I need to be slow to speak. Always thinking that something I say matters to someone. But I also have to remember if someone is reaching out, I need to become available and even if the time is crazy and I have to be creative with the schedule have that conversation with that person as well because it will matter.

We are in a time and space where everything matters…most importantly our words.

Learn more about Sara Lowery and her inspirational stories at campuspeak.com/sara-lowery