Isn’t it strange how words work in our world? Life is a story that invites us to read between the lines of our everyday experiences. Words are like threads, weaving together the fabric of our reality. Language impacts not just how we interact with the world, but our mindset towards it too. When we pose a question or share a statement, we’re translating our thoughts into words, expressing our inner world through the language we use. In this way, our conversation becomes a unique text, where the ideas, emotions, and intentions encoded in words form the basis of our shared reality. Sometimes the things people say are unclear or abstract, but specific words help us uncover their deeper meanings. 

Decoding words shared in conversations can feel like deciphering a cryptic code, unraveling the layers of meaning. Especially when that meaning can be misunderstood. I often look at my two-year-old daughter and wonder how language is going to shape her identity. Is she going to be Chinese American or American Chinese? At some point every word, every sentence will become a puzzle piece that she’ll try fitting into some mosaic of her daily experiences for her to have her own answer. My goal is to introduce her to as much literature as humanly possible in a short amount of time, praying that the reading will sharpen her analytical skills, enabling her to recognize patterns and motivations so that she can more easily illuminate the hidden subtext of her life. So that when someone says to her, “You’re reading too much into it,” she’ll be equipped with the appropriate skill sets to negotiate her identity within any environment

In my journey as a creative writing student, I’ve taken more time to grasp how literacy empowers individuals with agency. My delayed realization has gifted me a unique perspective on the power of language. It’s not just about reading words on a page; it’s about finding my voice, expressing thoughts and beliefs, and moving in the world with confidence. I can’t wait for the day I can start to share some of my favorite pieces of literature with my daughter, Future Home of a Living God (Louise Erdrich), Kindred (Octavia Butler), & Unabashed Gratitude (Ross Gay). It’s a list that needs adding to, but I have time to add to her library. It’s those books that showed me the power of words and how they can leave lasting impressions.

Words are a reflection. Spoken, read, heard, recited, or sung, words spread globally. We can speak inclusively, exclusively, fearfully, happily, and frustratedly. When we recognize the strength of understanding the connotations of words, we become better listeners and therefore better communicators. But first, let’s learn to be kind to ourselves, use words within our inner dialogue to attract the language that allows us to reflect a positive environment.

Meet the blogger:

TRAVIS HENDERSHOT is a poet who is recovering from working in manufacturing for a decade.

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