Last week was a long and grueling week for me and it precisely why I ended up sick over the weekend. I’m certain of it.
One day last week, when I was spent in every possible way, a young girl that is also a 4th grader, but attends my friend’s class not mine (we’ll call her Jackie) approached me in the hall.
“Mrs. Hatch, how are you so…pretty?”
“Oh my goodness, Jackie! You are too nice. Thank you so much!” (I reach over and squeeze her shoulders-It had been a day and I was feeling far from pretty.)
“No seriously. You’re just so pretty and tall and your outfits are always so nice and you’re just! Ah! How?”
“Thank you, Jackie. I needed that compliment more than ever…especially since I’m always loving your outfits–it’s quite a compliment!” She smiled and we parted ways.
Her compliment stuck with me throughout the rest of the day and into the next day. So much so that I wrote her a little thank you note. I’ll share part of what I wrote in her note with you today as well as some things I would have added if I had thought a bit more about it.
I wanted to thank you for taking the time to compliment me yesterday. I was having a rough day (as those kinds of days sometimes happen) and your compliment brightened my day. I want you to know what a difference kind words and a smile can make. I hope that you will hold onto your kind heart and remember that it is one of the greatest assets you have.
My letter pretty much ended there. But here’s what else I’d like to say to Jackie.
There may come a day when compliments to others feel as though they come at a cost to you even if you don’t verbalize them. If you think to yourself, “Oh she’s pretty.” “Oh, that was a really good idea!” You still may feel that it costs you a bit of your own confidence.
The world will try to teach you that there is a ranking process for beauty, fitness, creativity, success, and about 1,234,239 other things.This is a lie. Don’t fall into that trap. If you fall into that trap, it is a hard one to climb out of. This trap tells you that if someone else is ______ (pretty, smart, funny, ambitious)that she has to either be more or less______ (pretty, smart, funny, ambitious, etc..) than you. That there has to be a rank. The world will try to teach you that this rank (that doesn’t really exist) will tell you if you are “better” than someone or “not as good” as someone.
This might make you feel threatened or competitive. This might make you feel like you need to find an area where you rank higher than her. You may feel the need to tear her down instead of build her up.
This first happens in your own mind, but before you know it, you may tear her down to others out loud…or to her own face. Don’t let that happen. Don’t let someone else’s strengths make you search for their weakness. Remember always, the power of a woman with enough confidence to use kind words.
Jackie, you must spend your time and energy building yourself up and liberating others with your light, rather than tearing them down.
You must hold tight to your own light.
If you believe the things the world says about beauty, intelligence, or success, you can find yourself changed before you even realize it. Finding that kindness again is possible, but it’s not easy.
You see, when you learn to criticize others, you start speaking a new language. A language that you speak silently as well as out loud. A language that speaks to you when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror, evaluating a situation at work, or dealing with a score on a test that you feel like you could have done better on.
You will find that when you build others up without seeing them as competition, you will find your own strength. You build yourself up in the process. Never stop building people up.It is a small but powerful service.
You will find that when you stop viewing in terms of rank and instead view in terms of heart, there is a peace there.
Seek that peace. Create that peace. Live that peace.
You will be forever beautiful and you will feel forever beautiful.