Although this memory is dear to me, I debated whether to share it. However, the message outweighs my cringe-worthy embarrassment.
The origin of The Garden Collection has a bit of my own back history. When I was young, my family moved around a lot. Between 2nd and 5th grade, I attended five different schools usually starting in the middle of the year. As hard as it was to make friends, I started to wonder if it was worth trying, especially if we were moving again.
My clothes weren’t fashionable. My pants were a tad too short. My glasses were thick. I was shy and had an overbite … as nerdy as you can get. Surprise! I was picked on constantly.
Well, one day in 5th grade music class, our teacher told everyone to sing and sing loudly. Since I knew the song she played on the piano, I happily complied. By the chorus, not only were twenty students looking at me, the teacher stopped playing and openly mocked me with many of the students joining in. To say I was mortified is an understatement. I just gave the whole class more ammunition against me.
It was then that the popular boy spoke up. “Stop it,” he yelled. “She told us to sing loud.” All I could do was stare at him. That never happened before; the class actually stopped taunting me.
Well, it wasn’t the last time I was teased or bullied. It wasn’t even the last time that day. However, the mental snapshot has always stayed with me when I realized two things in that moment:
1) My feelings weren’t invisible like I thought; and
2) I mattered … to that one person at that particular point in time.
It changed the way I saw myself. He had given me a new confidence, and I built on that.
Well, my family stayed in that school district. He and I graduated from high school together. We didn’t really interact, but at a rural school, everyone knows everyone.
He inspired me to write a story about that moment. It’s not about him or me; it’s about the message that words of encouragement can stay with you for a lifetime. His certainly had.
I saw him with his daughter a while ago. I told him he inspired the story while his daughter listened. Surprised, he didn’t remember his kindness all those years ago. I didn’t expect him to. As awkward as that conversation was, I’m glad I shared it. His daughter left knowing her dad was my fifth grade hero.
I started to wonder if all those people who impacted my life in a positive way knew that they had. I try to share my appreciation whenever I can because the energy of words and actions affects us ─ good and bad. So, for all of the people who made a difference in your life, make sure you let them know. I guarantee you’ll feel great and it’ll make their day.
Learn more about The Garden Collection here.