Photo courtesy Christopher Walker
I’m amazed at the astonishing affect friendship has on grammar.
When I’m surrounded by people I know here, people with whom I have shared history, years of relationship, and hours and hours of great anecdotes, I feel confident and eloquent in Spanish. I can make jokes, understand stories, and say complex things.
When, on the other hand, I’m ordering ice cream from a barely tolerant cashier, my Spanish goes south. I stutter, I use the wrong words, and I can’t for the life of me remember how to say “cone”, even when it’s written on the wall in front of me.
Who you’re talking to makes a huge difference in how your voice sounds.
So if you’re just developing your voice–if you’re practicing, imagining, or dreaming up new ways to use your talents–be careful who you speak to about it. Shelter your words, your work, your art from critical or sarcastic voices. Seek counsel and critique from safe people.
More importantly, when others around you are learning, reaching for risks, or trying something new, be a friend. This is a lesson I’m learning about my own work–and others.
- Find three things that are working before you mention anything that needs work.
- Reflect back their hard work to them.
- Get excited and enthusiastic about their accomplishments.
- Share their brilliance with others who might appreciate it.
Being a stranger with an accent has made me reflect how many in the world are crossing boundaries, speaking a language not their own, exerting themselves in one of the most unnerving ways possible. Why are we surprised or dismissive of an accent? Why is it not a badge of honor, of someone who, in the most basic way possible, is trying something new?
There are so many people out there who are ready to shoot us down for trying.
Let’s be the safe haven for creativity, risk-taking, and depth of spirit. Let’s welcome those who are newcomers. Let’s applaud those who step outside their comfort zone.
Let’s cheer each other on towards the goal of opening our hearts to the heart-breaking beauty of the world.