Sundry Posts

The Privilege of Encouragement


Do you remember as a child being so excited about something and some well-meaning adult spoke a few less than positive words? Do you remember that feeling of your hope crushed like a balloon releasing all of its air as a pin breaches the rubber?

I do.

I remember several times throughout my childhood where I gave up before I even started.

One was during 8th-grade parent-teacher conferences and when the counselor asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I replied either a veterinarian or a lawyer. The response I received was I’d better learn to like chemistry, which I hated, or I would not be able to do that. I am neither a vet or an attorney today. And, I never took a chemistry class.

Another time I expressed that I wanted to be a writer. The response? You have to have a job to pay the bills. I have the job that pays the bills, and I am a writer. Go figure!

Each of these instances (and there were probably more) stands out in my mind as life altering events. Neither of them large when looking from the outside.

The inside is another matter.

I immediately decided that I wouldn’t be able to be a veterinarian because I didn’t like science. The thought that I wouldn’t be able to stand the sight of blood or seeing animals in pain didn’t come into play until years later.

Being a writer was something else. I didn’t know anyone who made their living as a writer although one of my classmates father was a writer. I didn’t make the connection that I could do that.

The belief that writing is a job just like any other at never entered my mind. I just assumed that writing was for a hobby, but the “real” work of life had to be the drudgery of a 40-hour work week. This type of work pays the bills but is soul killing.

My writer’s group sponsors an annual writing competition for young writers. It’s called ‘Write Out of Hibernation’ and is for the local high school kids.

This year I have the privilege of being one of the judges. I even volunteered for this.

Although I haven’t begun the process of reading through the entries, I feel the weight of my task.

These young writers have poured their soul’s onto the page and have opened themselves up. Each hopes to win though only three can. It has to be difficult.

Each of these young people is braver than I am as I struggle with submitting my work.

I have a chance to encourage someone to follow their dream. A chance to live a fuller life. A chance to encourage each of them in ways that I wasn’t.

I hope I am up to the task.

What have you done to encourage someone today?