January 22, 2006

First Words

Some say first words are the most important. Mothers and fathers track their babies' first words. First words make first impressions. Once you say something, you can never take it back. So instead of starting this journal with something risky, something I can never take back, I want to put out there the fact that no matter what your first words are in any given situation, you are judged. In the same way, each time you meet someone and listen to their first words, you're judging them. As though the first words somehow carry more importance than any words that may come after. So I guess we all start somewhere with words and with judgment. Interesting.

This journal will be filled with words, often words about words as I focus my thoughts on literacy.
What one says, what one reads or writes (if one can read and write at all), carries great importance in the United States today. What one can and can't do, and how well, affects how others judge them. Words, then, are the currency of our worth, for better or worse. So how does one say, "Hello... My name is ____" without accent, without hesitation, without fear of being "different"? After all, if the way we use words and indeed the words we use are the basis of another's judgment of one's character, ability, and worth, especially in a society where another's opinion can determine one's economic, social, and political fate, we must use extreme caution at all times when we use words.

For most, learning the "right words" is essential to survival: literal, political, social... in any given situation, one's ability to communicate is not enough. One must use the right words, the right language, the right descriptions, in order to be accepted.

So what's at stake with words are judgment, survival, and acceptance.

That said...
Hello, my name is Megan.

... and like Anna Nalick writes/sings in her hit "Breathe (2am)": "These words are my diary screaming out loud and I know that you'll use them however you want to"