Words that make a lasting impact Print
Youth Column
Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

I'm one of those people who will immediately reach to touch when told, "Don't touch that, it's hot." It's not that I don't believe the person who's speaking, it's that I've learned from experience that situations change and hot things usually become cool.

I'm also one of those people who tries to learn from those around him. Words of wisdom, born from experience, are gold to me. They give perspective I could never hope to fully achieve on my own. Because that's the type of person I am, I'm a sucker for any sort of social media post where groups of people are asked to answer personal questions. One of the places I like to browse when I have the chance is the Ask Reddit forum on, you guessed it, Reddit.

Recently, a member asked the community a simple question, "What has someone said to you that you can never forget?"

Some of the comments were humorous, like the father who always said, "We can't come back to Nana's house if we don't leave first."

Some words were particularly wise because they took simple ideas and expressed them in clever ways. For example, one way to avoid being taken advantage of is to remember, "You don't have to set yourself on fire to keep others warm."

Then, there were the comments that demonstrated how much the words we say can affect others. Little did a college professor know the pain that could be caused by the statement, "You could be brilliant, but you're not."

We are impacted by words like these every day. Sometimes, we hear them in the moment. Other times, they're memories from years past, brought to the surface unexpectedly, but with great impact. The words may often be just beyond our grasp, but upon reflection, their meaning is always tangible through the ways we act.

I'll always remember a substitute geometry teacher in high school who spoke in riddles. When asked what equation to use to find a solution, she always said (with supporting hand gestures), "It doesn't matter if you touch your nose like this (finger touch from below) or this (finger touch from above), as long as you eventually touch your nose."

That simple statement made a significant impact on my life, in ways I could never imagine at the time. Because of it, I more clearly understand that there are many paths to achieve the same goal, many solutions to the same problem. We may travel in different directions, but that doesn't mean our destination isn't the same.

Knowing the impact of that statement, it comes as no surprise that my favorite Reddit comments were those that were incredibly simple, yet hiding deeper meaning that was amazingly profound.

How much difference could we make if we lived by the statement, "If you have nothing to do, pick up a broom"?

How much happier would we be if everyone lived the mantra, "Don't make life miserable for someone who can make it worse for you"?

How much less pain would we feel if we followed the advice, "If you feel like crying, let it out. If you try to hold it in, it's just going to tear you up inside"?

Words of wisdom like these may not have the same impact on you that they do to me, but that doesn't make them any less important. If one statement by one person puts a smile on the face of one other, then the person who spoke made an impact that should never be forgotten.

Or to put it in the words of Reddit, "It's a bad day, not a bad life."

Erick Rommel currently works for a nonprofit youth organization. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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