"I made a vow to myself last night"

I've started noticing more often than not, people seem oblivious to the impact their words can have on others. What seems to be forgotten is that words actually have meanings. So even if someone said "no offence but..." or "I'm only joking" the words used have already left their mark. What has put this to the front of mind is a few key things I experienced over the past week.

I had a bank teller try to recommend me income insurance because and I quote "if one of the people you work with lost the plot and decided to bonk you over the head, you wouldn't be able to work". As you can imagine I was extremely offend as I am "one of those people" the blatant stigma and stereotyping made me speechless. The second instance that occurred was when I was having a conversation with someone whom knows me quite well and they said "she just needs to snap out of it" about a person they were concerned about. Again this was highly offensive to me as my immediate thought was "I wonder if that's what she thinks about me" and what's the point of all the work I am doing if I can't make people close to me realise the impact of their words and actions. The third was being trolled online. The last was I watched an extremely powerful documentary on rape culture in our society and the bullying and shaming that occurs to the survivors of the assault.

It is horrifying too see that bullying behaviour and people believing it's their right to say whatever they feel with no consequences to their actions, is still so readily accepted in today's society. It is very easy to not take notice of the language we use when talking to people about topics we may not be fully educated about. The fact is that social media although it has many benefits it also has a dark side. Making it so accessible for people to share, comment and unfortunately shame others from behind a screen. It can also take someone's most vulnerable moments of their life and display it for the whole world to see without their consent or knowledge.

I made a vow to myself last night. I will not let this be the norm anymore. I will use my voice for the people whose aren't so loud or who simply cannot speak. I cannot lay my head and sleep at night knowing that I am not making a positive impact to smash the way society views people who have suffered trauma, who live with mental illnesses or are a minority. Together we can make this happen. There is plenty of good in the world and if every person acted in kindness or thought before they said or typed something we can change it. Yes it is a very long road. However, it is the only way for me.

Live, Breathe, Embrace;

Stef

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Tenille Westerhout