Words should mean more

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Journalism sophomore Bleah PattersonBy Bleah B. Patterson


Success, from the Latin successus, means to acquire fame, triumph or achievement. “The favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals,” according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary.  Webster seems to think success is basically a job well done.

Perhaps we could say by definition, it is what hard work and perseverance give birth to. But what happens to a word used too much, a victim of its own success?

Rudyard Kiping, author of “Jungle Book” said, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”

Which, to me, means those wielding powerful words like “success,” “love,” “forgiveness” and “hate” should be vigilant, making sure they’re not to blame for depleting the meaning.

The more you say a word, the more it loses its gusto, its importance and, eventually, its value.

When I was a child, I was told actions speak louder than words. I wasn’t supposed to apologize to my parents; I was supposed to be so “sorry” that I wouldn’t repeat poor behavior.

Actor Charles Dance

Actor Charles Dance

As I got older, I thought loving everyone would magically mean a happy ending. I thought “I love you” meant something, because words had value in my household.

I quickly learned “love,” like “sorry,” had been overused, overworked and bled dry. Today those words are punch lines more often than descriptions of real sentiments.

Finishing up my time at this college, I’m finding that I’m the product of a success-driven-administration, with “success” inserted into every title like an exclamation point, meant to excite and rile up readers.

This should ease my anxiety, not heighten it, right? I’m attending a college that puts my success at the top of its checklists.

Shouldn’t I be happy I attend a college so concerned about my success? Yes, but I worry about its dwindling meaning every time I see it sandwiched between catchphrases.

There’s nothing wrong with being successful; on the contrary, success is so important to me, I want it to be so deep within the hearts and minds of our administrators they don’t have to keep saying it like they’re trying to convince themselves.

In the words of Tywin Lannister (please excuse the “Game of Thrones” reference), “If you have to say you’re a king, then you’ve already lost your throne.”

I worry that success has already become a handy slogan. I worry it will be an effective ploy, empty of promise and less of a reality.

I’m not concerned because I attend an unsuccessful school or because my instructors and professors aren’t equipping me with everything I need to be successful. They are incredibly capable and impactful.

I’m simply wondering when it became OK to fling words around, expecting their definitions to speak for you, instead of just taking the necessary steps to let your actions speak for you.


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