Years ago, at the end of my freshman year of college, one of my best friends and I had an idea. At my school, we have what the school calls “Finish Strong Week,” and what the students refer to as “Hell Week.” This is the week before finals, when everything seems to come crashing down on us. We decided to find a way to try and brighten up the students’ week. We bought a pack of colorful sticky notes, sat down at her kitchen table, and wrote inspirational, fun messages. We wrote things like, “You got this!” “You’re almost there!” and “Don’t give up!” We probably wrote about 100 sticky notes, gathered them up, and headed to campus on the Sunday before Hell Week, right before it closed. We snuck through the empty halls and plastered the walls with our sticky notes. We hit every building, and even most of the bathrooms, posting sticky notes in every hallway. No one knew what we were doing, and no one saw us in the act. We left campus that night eager to hear what people would be saying about our little idea.
The next day, feedback poured in in many different ways. While some of our friends made snide comments about the whole thing being stupid, most people loved it. There were Facebook statuses saying the sticky notes had made their day, posts on an anonymous platform thanking whoever had done it, it was even discussed in two of my classes by students and professors. Everyone seemed to be talking about it, but no one knew who had done it. Despite this fact, everyone seemed to be having a better day because of what we had done.
Throughout the week, most of the sticky notes disappeared. While I’m sure most of them fell down and were thrown away, I like to think some of them were kept by students who were grateful for our small act of kindness.
I’m currently at the end of Hell Week, but this time as a senior about to graduate, so why do I bring this up now? Why wait for three years to pass, when everyone has long forgotten that day, to come clean and admit I was one of the culprits? A few days ago, I felt so unbelievably stressed, I made myself sick. I felt about ready to break after days of late nights, presentation preparation, and frantic typing. After an especially long day, I dashed to the bathroom during my ten-minute break between classes. I was exhausted, but I still had a huge presentation to give and a class for my job to go to that night, and I felt as though I was starting to crack.
Standing at the sink, trying to gather my scattered thoughts, I saw it. It was hanging on the wall between the two mirrors. A yellow sticky note. It read, “You are bee-autiful!” It made me smile, and even get a little misty eyed as I thought back on that day all those years ago. I thought about how much I needed that simple message in that pivotal moment of doubt. I started remembering how in the past few years, I’ve seen a few motivational sticky notes pop up around this time of year. This is something, to the best of my knowledge, that hadn’t happened before. I wondered how many people felt just like me when they a saw a sticky note, reminding them of who they were and what they were doing. How many people had their day made all those years ago? How many people saw one when they needed it most? How many people felt a million times better because of a simple message written on a little sticky note?
That’s the thing about true kindness. It doesn’t need recognition or credit. It doesn’t have to be a huge, world shifting act. It doesn’t need to be life changing. It can be as simple as a compliment to a stranger, chatting with the tired worker while you order your food, or a simple message on a sticky note. Simple acts of kindness matter to the people who need it, so give it away as much as you can. It doesn’t cost a thing to be kind to others. I’ll keep working on my end to be kind. I hope you do the same.