I’m not talking about huge hero like rescue efforts or providing scholarships. I’m talking about finding out, perhaps years later, that some little tiny (in your mind) thing you did hit someone else hard, made them think, and changed their life.
I’ve got two, neither of which I thought was a lifechanging moment for anyone when I said 'em:
The first one was when a high school friend of mine and I were sitting in a Denny’s commiserating about how much life sucked and people sucked and our hometown sucked and how were we ever going to become famous actresses stuck here in nowheresville? I just casually said in that, “well, everyone knows…” tone, “Well, you know, if we REALLY wanted to move to LA, we could get plane tickets tomorrow. There’s nothing keeping us here! We just like to talk as if we want to act, but we don’t do what we need to to make it happen!” Apparently, I was right, because 48 hours later, she was gone! I was a little spooked over that, actually. She didn’t say goodbye or anything, just packed up and went off chasing her dreams. That was the first time I felt the power of my own words.
The second was much more recent: a woman who chose to have a baby with her rather sick partner, after I said, “Well, you know, I think every person who decides to have a kid should do so under the assumption that they’re going to be a single parent. Not every guy leaves like my kid’s sperm donor, but some work obscene hours and some get hit by a bus! You just have to take it on as if you’re going to be the only parent forever and hope you won’t be.” She decided that her partner’s likely death in the next few years was a gamble worth taking to have a baby with him. She did, and he did die when the boy was about a year and a half, but I’d never seen him so alive as in those last 18 months with his son. I’m proud of that one, I admit. But, again, a little scared about the power of my own words. I thought it was just somethin’ I was sayin’ in a conversation, you know? Turned out she was really taking my advice as serious advice from Someone Who Knows!
How 'bout you?
(It occurs to me that this OP might come off as Braggy McBraggerson, but I trust that anyone who’s been there knows how humbling and a little scary this sort of thing actually is, and anyone who’s not…well, I think it’s just that you don’t KNOW you’ve done it. I think we’ve all changed countless lives with casual words or deeds.)