What Adjectives Color Your World?
By Elizabeth Mowers
As some of you may already know, I teach ESL (English as a second language) online every morning. As I am a very expressive person, this job comes pretty naturally to me as I must act out many new words for students. I also use a lot of expression to encourage my students to speak. My big smile, funny faces and encouraging nods seem to help them overcome their fear of failure.
As expressive as I am, most parents write and thank me for being a serious teacher. Say, what? I've never been called a serious anything a day in my life. But in my students' culture, this is a huge compliment. It means I take my job seriously and work hard to help their student. Okay, if you put it that way, I'll take it!
When I was growing up the ultimate compliment that you could receive from someone in my family was that you were "hilarious". At family functions you could practically see everyone's brain working overtime to piggy back off of someone's comment to make a joke. Over the course of a visit, if you could circle back to reference an earlier conversation by connecting it to the present conversation in a joke you earned double bonus points (paid out in everyone's loud laughter). In my family you had to get used to people talking over you and scrambling to beat you to the punch line. As a kid when I brought friends to family parties, my friends usually looked shell shocked for the first hour or two. If they could land at least one zinger at an opportune moment and land a good laugh, they were in!
But I used to think that if my friends had grown up in a family like mine they might have spent their entire childhoods feeling like a round peg in a square hole. I believe that friends are the family you choose. Maybe that means the first task of adulthood is finding people who appreciate the adjectives you bring to the table. "Hmm, I'm not hilarious but I'm kind and honest. Any other twenty-somethings out there looking for kind and honest?"
I saw a post on Facebook recently that listed wonderful adjectives to describe little girls other than telling them they look "pretty" or telling them what cute clothes they have. Change the adjectives and you can change how they view themselves. Instead of telling a little girl "What a cute dress you have on!" Tell her she is brave, bold, clever, adventurous, kind, helpful, artistic, decisive, fair, honest, or...dare I say...hilarious. THEN you can admire her dress and ask if it comes in adult sizes.
Though I listen to news updates on the radio, I've stopped watching the news. It was too negatively impacting my view of the world and my place in it. When I stop to think of the good things I see going on, despite all the turmoil these days, I think of people visiting friends and caring for family and going the extra mile to brighten a neighbor's day. I do think of my community as stressed and worried and hurting, but I also think of it as strong and compassionate and persevering too.
What about you?
What was the highest compliment you could have gotten as a kid?
Besides the pain in the world these days, what positive things do you see too?
What are the adjectives that just make you light up?
June saw the release of my newest book WHERE THE HEART MAY LEAD.