A lifelong Love of Words

I was having a group text conversation with my family this weekend, and some stories came up in my life that made me realize how many things are connected by the common thread of my love for words.

My first thoughts about this idea came from my post last week when I wrote about my top five strengths according to StrengthFinders 2.0. My second strength, “ideation,” says this about my interest in language (emphasis mine):

  • Driven by your talents, you have a rich vocabulary upon which to draw.
  • The words you choose often expand and challenge your listeners’ or readers’ thinking. You pose questions, evaluate answers, and figure out how things work.
  • Reducing an idea, theory, or process to its most basic parts provides you with many insights.
  • You are likely to archive — that is, preserve — your discoveries so you can use them later.
  • You derive satisfaction from mental activity. You recognize when you are especially creative.
  • It’s very likely that you spontaneously tune in to what others think of you as a person and as a professional. As a result, you intentionally commit to memory complicated and intricate words as well as specialized terminology.
  • You use language to your advantage in situations when you desire to influence, confront, make demands of, or issue orders to people.
  • Your vocabulary allows you to speak with authority.

The reason this is interesting to me is I actually had forgotten this was one of my strengths listed in the book.

The conversation started with me explaining that I had started a new family tradition with my kids, where I would declare a “word of the day” during dinner and go on to explain its definition to my kids. I only been doing this a few times last week, when by Saturday one of my kids preemptively asked me, “what’s the word of the day?”

This story led me to share how I loved writing cursive as a child and even had a favorite letter. My sisters each pointed out that they generally hated some or most of having to write in cursive, and even disliked those infamously orange vocabulary books we had each year. For me, however, they were one of my favorite parts of school.

Then I began to realize how many things in my life were connected to my love of writing and language in general. My other childhood interests were playing and watching sports, and at one point I had created my own newspaper in my notebooks so I could pretend I was a sports journalist writing recaps and highlights of the previous night’s games.

Writing those stories is why I then decided to learn HTML, so I could combine my love of technology with writing and sports. I used free web hosting like GeoCities and Homestead to learn how to create functional websites. Even before the idea of a blog existed, I was trying to figure out how to regularly update a page and create templates to reuse a design for new content.

My love of music also helped me express my thoughts and emotions through my songwriting as a teenager. It helped me get through a difficult time dealing with my mom’s illness and how it affected our entire family. It also helped me process philosophical questions about life and its purpose and meaning.

It was cool to be able to share some of that with my family, who didn’t know most of the background because I never thought to share it. I generally like keeping to myself and am very protective of my emotions. As an introvert, I quickly become emotionally (and even physically) drained from contributing to conversations in a group setting, even if the conversation isn’t very deep.

By the end of the night, it felt good to share some of my life stories and feel validated and more known by the people I care so much about. I hope it leads to us doing that more often and allows others to feel similarly appreciated.

Perhaps the thing I’m most excited about is to watch my kids learn and grow, hopefully cultivating a love of words and thoughtfulness as much as, if not more than, I do. I know I inherited it from my Dad, so it would be a privilege to watch it come full circle in my life.