Words Worth Spreading: A #LessonLearned by Julie Davidoski
When I think of Julie Davidoski, I think of chipmunks, side-ponytails and slap-bracelets. You heard me. This girl is single-handedly trying to revive that fashion craze. And she’s actually doing a pretty good job of it.
Julie has a happy-go-lucky blog where she (generally) writes about happy topics that make people smile. I feel honored to have her here today so we can see another side to our spunky girl: the introspective Julie.
For lots of happiness and a side-order of Smurfs, check out Go Guilty Pleasures. Friend her on Facebook and Twitterstalk her at @Julie_Davidoski.
• • •
• • •
Words Worth Spreading
You might think this post is going to be about the day I realized real love is better than endlessly staring at posters of Jonathan Taylor Thomas, or the time I almost needed stitches because of an unfortunate incident involving an unusually sharp shower faucet. Well, no. I still idolize actors and I still reach for the soap with abandon. I’ve got a lot to learn.
There is one lesson that seems to have stuck, though.
In 1999, I was 17 years old. I had recently earned my GED and was overcoming a history of panic attacks and a “mild” eating disorder (talk about NOT living up to that Prince song). I saw a wonderful therapist and felt heard, but I had one setback: I couldn’t stop myself from snooping through my mom’s email account, eager to catch a glimpse of my own name. It seemed like a no-brainer; she never signed out of Yahoo! (I’m not sure she knew how).
“Be careful what you wish for,” could easily be the lesson learned here, because surely it didn’t take long before “Julie” graced more than one of my mom’s emails. The email I remember best was to her friend, and the focus was on my weight, which was increasing at the time. The tone was disappointment. I cried. How was I going to stop obsessing over the numbers on the scale if she couldn’t?
For weeks I kept reading. I can only remember my name being associated with a number and nothing else. I knew my mom loved me unconditionally, so why did there seem to be a condition? As I read, I thought about all of the things my childhood girlfriends would say behind my back. I knew they’d all rather hang out with the other girls than me. I remembered the 8th grade schoolmates who said my crush, a geeky boy with a feminine side, might go out with me at the end of the summer – if he was desperate enough.
Then I realized something.
My mom had probably always talked about me. She would probably always talk about me. And there was nothing I could do about it.
Except there was.
My therapist didn’t bother masking her surprise when I shared that I’d stopped reading my mom’s emails.
“What made you stop?” she asked.
“I just realized I don’t want to know,” I replied simply.
She raised her eyebrows and jotted something on her notepad. “That is incredible progress.”
Her sincere praise made me realize, for the first time, that this might be a significant turning point in my life.
Now I know it was.
Not long ago, a co-worker blurted, “You should hear what Lucy said about you when we were friends.” My response? “You know what? Please don’t tell me. I’ve been down that road, and nothing good can come of it.” I know she was not only taken aback, but also disappointed. She tried to tell me repeatedly, and I continually turned her down.
I get it. It’s like picking a scab.
But I don’t need any more scars.
Don’t get me wrong. I like sarcasm, juicy gossip and all Perez Hilton has to offer, but I never, ever want to make others feel the way I once did.
For the last twelve years, I have avoided seeking negative opinions, and have done my very best to refrain from spreading others’ harsh words**.
Positivity is a powerful thing, and as strongly as I believe in keeping negative words to myself, so strongly do I believe in spreading upbeat ones.
I think it’s working, because my family’s doing really well in the compliments department lately.
And by the way, you are looking so hot right now! Is that a new shirt?
**In other words, I’m the world’s best secret-keeper, so you should totally email me and tell me everything.
How are you when it comes to self-restraint when it comes to talking about other people?
35 thoughts on “Words Worth Spreading: A #LessonLearned by Julie Davidoski”
Yayyyyyy! Thank you so much for the opportunity to write a guest post for Lessons Learned, Renee! You know I luuuurve your blog, maybe as much as I love seeing my face near your face. IYKWIM.
And in response to your question, I TRY not to “gossip,” but sometimes it’s hard to know where the line is, when, say, you’re talking to a loved one about another loved one because you’re concerned about something.
Julie! I am soooo glad you are here today! Sorry I’m late to show up! I actually was up until 4 AM last night writing. Hubby is out of town, so I made the most of the uninterrupted time. Meanwhile, I slept until 10 AM. 😉
Thank you for being here — and for being such a positive chipmunk in my blogging life.
Great post, Julie! I love that you’re spreading positivity around!
I think I do okay in keeping my comments about people positive. One place I may fail at it, though, is when a student’s behavior has been…not so positive. Sometimes it’s pretty easy to complain to a fellow teacher. I don’t think I’ve done as much of that this year, though, so that’s progress… =)
Thank you so much, TJ! I do think there is value in letting off steam, so I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself about that 🙂 Heaven only knows how many times I’ve complained about co-workers to the hub (I try to be careful with what I say AT work, but even then I’m no saint)! I definitely think it’s one of those things you can never really perfect, but being conscientious puts you ahead of the game. Thanks again!
This is such an awesome lesson, and so well written. I appreciate this a lot. BTW, isn’t JTT soooo hot in Wild America?!
Thank you so much, EllieAnn! JTT was SO hot in Wild America. It’s a fact. (I actually met him about 15 years ago when he was on The View, and he was really gorgeous in person. Perfect skin and teeth. LOL Not a big guy though, maybe 5’3″ at most?)
Excellent post. Sometimes I’ll find myself saying something about someone then stopping to think, “Is my phone on?” (I’ve never butt-dialed anyone with the phone I currently have, but I still have that fear) I’ve begun to tell myself that if I’m scared of someone hearing what I have to say, maybe it is better that I don’t say it.
I love the idea that we shouldn’t seek out what others might say about us. I can’t say that I would have had the strength to tell someone I didn’t want to know – but maybe that’s worth working on.
Thanks so much, Amber! I really appreciate this comment. I think that’s a GREAT rule of thumb to live by (“if I’m scared of someone hearing what I have to say, maybe it is better than I don’t say it”). It is really hard to do. I’m better at avoiding negativity from others than I am from saying negative things about others. Sometimes ya just want to complain (and a certain amount of venting is healthy, I think)! I try to keep it from getting too petty – “She’s becoming a pain in the arse because she won’t pick a date for the party” can be fine, but adding “And has stupid hair” might not be necessary for blowing off steam. 😉
This is so awesome. Ignorance in some cases really is bliss. 🙂
Thank you so much, Annie! It really is amazing how easy it became to embrace the ‘I don’t want to know’ philosophy. I think when I realized that nothing good EVER comes of it, it made saying ‘Don’t tell me’ the mandatory route for me (some people probably make lemons out of lemonade with bad gossip about them, but I can’t seem to).
hahaha Annie, I just realized I said ‘lemons out of lemonade’… Classic blonde Julie moment.
Thank you so much, Catherine! I was really excited to do a guest post for Renee (her blog is SO FAB)! 🙂
Great thoughts, great words, Julie. Wow. I loved the “But I don’t need any more scars” line. Beautifully expressed.
I am a fantastic secret keeper. At times I’ve been too could and have crumbled under some. It took some counseling to figure that one out. 🙂
Thank you so much, Leanne! I often wish I will still in counseling (this woman was SUCH an awesome therapist; she unwittingly picked my college for me because of a suggestion she once made, LOL)! That objective voice there to just listen is so cathartic!
I have often wondered what prompts people to blab the garbage that they do. A former friend of mine told me something I should never have heard. It was just gossip by jealous people about me. The gossip didn’t upset me as much as the fact that my so-called friend didn’t stick up for me like I would have. Instead she believed that crap and wanted me to know. Life’s short and I don’t need unsupportive people in my life! Cut the ties that hold you back. If you are related and can’t cut them, consider the source and their insecurities. In the long run, it just makes us stronger!
I just figured this stuff out at 40. (Well, 45 because I add five years so as to to look hotter than I am — but you get the point.) People can be unsupportive a$$hats. It’s good to figure out who they are and minimize them as much as possible.
Susie, I’m glad to hear you say ‘former’ friend – it sounds like this might have been one of those toxic people (though I much prefer Renee’s use of a$$hat here ;)) who brings just negativity to your life. Being negative is definitely the easy route, and yet positive people are often just thought of as too dumb to know better! BAH!
And Renee – you look hot for any age!
My life is so much better without all the gossips in my life. Ignorance truly is BLISS!
This is such an awesome post! Good for you for being able to move past the point of wanting to know / caring about what other people say about you. So true, too, about needing to think twice about saying something that you might not want someone overhearing. It reminds me of when I was much younger – pre-teen? I had probably said something not-so-nice either to or about my brother (probably called him stupid or something?), and my aunt had heard it. She told me that comments like that actually make me look bad, not him. That has stuck with me for over 30 years. Do I always say only great things about people? No. But I do always remember that advice, and I’ve often thought it about other people when I see someone belittling someone else.
Oh, and I’m a great secret-keeper, too! (Also sometimes too good. Probably should have told some people some stuff I knew, but chose not to.)
Thank you so much! I really appreciate this comment. And your aunt is SO right! I think that all the time, also when I see people yelling at someone, or complaining about something ridiculous. It just makes THEM look like a jacka*s!
My only fear about secret-keeping is that I’ll forget which ones are secrets, LOL (If you heard about the blonde moments I’ve been having this week, you’d know why I’m so concerned. And by ‘this week’ I mean my whole life, heh heh)
One of my resolutions this year is to be nicer, but it’s kind of hard for me to define for myself what I mean by that. Focusing on the positive about people, not judging and not complaining about people are definitely big components of what I want to accomplish, though. This is a great post, and a great lesson you’ve shared! As I read, I was thinking that I don’t want to create scars for others, either. Great job, and thanks for sharing your positive attitude!
Thank you so much! It probably goes without saying that I think that’s a fabulous resolution, although I agree it can be one that’s hard to define! I try to be realistic, knowing that I do need some venting time, and there will always be moments where I slip-up and get into a conversation that seems gossipy (in the bad way)! A lot of times I just fake being nice, but hope it still makes someone else feel good. It’s been shockingly effective, LOL, although I hate to seem insincere (I just remind myself, well, I’m in a pissy mood, and I might not even like this person, but I SINCERELY don’t want THEM to feel bad. HA!)!
Being fake – and what that means about who we are, really – is a topic that came up on my blog when I wrote about being nice. I agree with you, what’s the point in letting your pissy mood effect the people around you (which I am plenty guilty of). I say fake it until you make it. Also, it’s okay not to like someone, but that doesn’t give you permission to treat them like crap. I don’t think it’s insincere to be polite and friendly when you don’t necessarily feel like being polite and friendly. It’s not insincere, it’s…polite and friendly.
Thank you for saying so! I think sometimes people use the ‘fake’ card to justify their own rude behavior. I’ve known people who would argue, “How will someone ever know when you’re being honest if you never are,” but I don’t think I should start going around telling people their pants make their butt look big and their wedding was totally lame, just because they ask. 😉
Good point! And you are being honest – you’re showing the world that you are a kind person. You may not share everything, but what you share is (should be) genuine. “The venue was beautiful.” You don’t have to tell them the music was too loud, the service was too long or there wasn’t enough food. People who share that kind of completely unnecessary feedback (and use the honest excuse) only do so because criticizing others and “bringing people down a peg or two” makes them feel better about themselves in comparison. Okay, I’m done. 😉
Oh, Jules, you are a lovely ray of sunshine and a very wise woman! I always try to exercise restraint when it comes to talking negatively about people. I’ve been the subject of not-so-nice gossip and I know how hurtful it can be and how self-conscious it can make you feel. I couldn’t stand the though of hurting someone else.
This is a great piece! You’re a really good and insightful writer! 🙂
Right back at’cha, Sprinkles, and thank you so much! It’s hard for me to imagine anyone ever gossiping about you, but I don’t think anyone’s safe from it!
I avoid gossip at all costs. Back in my twenties, I used to get sucked right into it because people just seemed to want to tell me everything. I am great at not blabbing it myself though. Now at my age, I can’t even be bothered with it. I’m just like you…I don’t even want to hear it. How can anything negative be productive in the long run? Maybe this is because of my days in high school when I was picked on constantly. I certainly wasn’t in the popular crowd. I was a total misfit. But that’s okay because I know how someone’s feelings can get hurt and I can put myself in their shoes. Great post, Jules.
Thank you, Darla! I definitely get that sense from you – that you are NOT a gossiper (in part because you’re so supportive of the blogging community)! I ABSOLUTELY think suffering through days at ‘The Geek Table’ in school makes us better people. I actually feel bad for the popular kids, because a lot of the ones who just coasted didn’t have to learn to develop inner beauty. (That sounds so corny.) Although my husband and his friends were the popular kids in high school (which STILL intimidates me a little bit), and they’re some of the nicest people I know. (It’s so awesome when popular kids are popular because they’re actually just darn likable.) …I got really off-track here, ha! Thanks again – you rock 🙂
Good point, Julie. My younger brother was probably one of the most popular kids in the entire high school and for good reason–he was genuine and sweet as can be. But yes, being a member of the nerd/geek table can help you develop empathy for others fast, that’s for sure!
This is great. I’ve always admired the motto not to say anything about someone else that you wouldn’t say to them in person, but I’m not there yet (though I’m pretty sure I don’t gossip with anyone except my husband). I also still have a hard time letting go of what I *think* other people think about me.
I do find that when I think about the probable motivations behind someone’s else’s behavior, I end up feeling more sympathetic and less apt to criticize.
Sarah, thank you so much for this comment (and sorry I was so late in seeing it)! I DEFINITELY still struggle with gossip and letting go of what I think other people think about me. I always want everyone to like me, and sometimes that might not always be the healthiest attitude to have, even if it prevents me from spreading negative words.
You’re so right that thinking about others’ motives can help us feel more sympathetic. And when that doesn’t work, I rely on the thought, “Well, THEY’RE the ones who look like a jacka$$es for being so critical.” 😉