Make Your Words Count

BY CHELSEA RICCHIO

I love cards.

There seems to be a trend now of doing away with cards because they’re pointless and overpriced.

While they ARE overpriced, nothing about them seems pointless to me.

Walking around Hallmark yesterday searching for a card for my mother, it occurred to me how picking the perfect card is like a testament to how well you know that person and the memories you’ve shared.

Maybe you find a hilarious card that you know will make them laugh. Maybe you find a card based on their favourite Disney movie (I know that’s my dream). Maybe you find a card that has one of those sappy, emotional messages that actually sums up how you feel better than you ever could.

I ended up picking a relatively simple card for my mom. It has an image of sunflowers on the front and just says “Happy Birthday” on the inside. Pretty boring, right? It is, but when I saw it, it instantly reminded me of my mom because one year we got her sunflowers for her birthday and all took turns taking photos with our faces stuck in them. The one of me ended up becoming sort of famous, being used in videos, newsletters, articles and even the newspaper on behalf of my work.

color-colors-letters-mail-Favim.com-161572Just like that a boring card was turned into something personal that is sure to make her smile. Because the message inside was so simple, I had lots of room to write my own personal message. On the left-hand side, I glued on one of our original sunflower photos.

I get that not everyone has a way with words the way that I do. That’s just the way that I think most of the time, in fully formed sentences. But anybody can write something personal – even if it’s in terrible handwriting, riddled with spelling errors, and doesn’t sound eloquent, that’s what makes it unique.

In addition to loving cards I also write letters whenever possible. I wrote letters to my friend Charlotte when she was living in Ireland, but mostly I end up writing letters to ex-boyfriends who won’t talk to me anymore (or who I refuse to talk to myself). I guess you could call them love letters.

Some of my best writing can be found in those messages. There is nothing that makes me try my best to write something good more than when I’m trying to express my feelings to someone important.

But that writing goes unappreciated. These guys don’t want to hear from me. They don’t care about me. Who knows if they even read them?

I want to make my words count. I want to use them for something good, to make people smile.

So I thought maybe I should make love cards instead of love letters. Cards for falling in love and out of it, anniversaries and break-ups.

And cards for things that no one really even needs a card for, like Skyping your best friend when she’s sad, or cleaning your apartment, or finally doing that thing you’ve been putting off forever.

Cards for things that people SHOULD get cards for but don’t, like standing up for themselves, or getting back up again after a bad depressive episode, or ending a toxic relationship.

I saw a tweet today from someone I don’t know that read, “Compassion is the compassion-quoteradicalism of our time.” That statement resonated with me deeply because in a world where your parents and bosses are always telling you that it’s every man for themselves and everyone is in competition with each other, there are so many young people saying no. That’s bullshit. We don’t want that life.

There are young celebrities who are trying to emphasize the value of friendship and respecting yourself, who are trying to build each other up rather than tear each other down. They are criticizing the popular media narrative of rivalries and dissecting careers based solely on how much money you make.

People like that stand for compassion, and that’s what I stand for too. I stand for mental health awareness but in a broader sense, in everything I do in life, I stand for compassion. I want to make it ‘cool’ to be nice, honest and authentic.

I want to make cards that reflect those values and are genuine – cards that read the way regular people talk, instead of the sticky-sweet, saccharine phrases you usually find. And cards with humour that is clever rather than relying on stereotypes and cliches.

I think that cards like that could really help people express themselves more easily, especially those for whom words do not come easily. And expression almost always leads to understanding and empathy, which almost always leads to compassion.

———–

I know this post seems super random, and it is, but aside from going card shopping this week, cards have been on my mind because my friend Charlotte and I were talking about hypothetically actually creating cards.

So I ask – do you like cards? And whether you do or don’t, would you want cards like this?


CHELSEA RICCHIO

Chelsea Ricchio is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the SPEAK OUT blog. She is also the Communications Manager for Healthy Minds Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 2015 with a BA in English Literature and Book & Media Studies. She was the former president of the student group Active Minds at UofT, which hosts SPEAK OUT events on campus (from which this blog takes its name). She was diagnosed with Dysthymia and Social Anxiety. She is 22 and lives in Toronto with her cat Genie and her roommate. 

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