For the past few weeks someone has been putting up sheets on the side of a bridge I pass on my way to work, each with a different message:
I think it's so heartwarming that someone is going through all this trouble for the chance of giving someone the words they need to hear. :)
It also reminded me that I used to do those kind of things. Back in 8th grade I and some girls from the youth group followed the trend of writing positive messages like "You are loved" and "You have a purpose" on read hearts and put them on our classmates' lockers for Valentine's Day. We even got the principal to give us the master key so we could put them inside the lockers so no one could tear them down!
(Yes, we were the goody-goody trusted ones.)
We spent hours cutting out hearts, until our hands ached, trying to think of different messages. But it was all worth it for the feeling of doing good. For the smiles, and for the fact that a guy from the cool gang, who first acted like it was dumb and silly, kept his heart taped up for weeks.
You really don't know what you do or say can mean to someone else. What effect it might have on them.
The days before I started 11th grade I bought 200 lollipops and wrote similar messages on little notes I taped to them and went to the school, which was open for the teachers preparing for the school year, and put one in each locker. The idea was that especially the 10th graders (the newest and youngest students) would get a nice surprise when they got to their assigned lockers. Sadly some of the older kids ran around and stole most of the candy before they got there.
Even so, I believed that as long as just one person got touched in some way, got the encouragement they needed, it was all worth it. Maybe one of the ones who stashed up on stolen lollipops found one with a message they really needed to hear.
Doing something like this is different from doing something for a friend or family member. It's more or less anonymous, and there's no granted thank you. It's all about trusting that your words, your actions, will reach whoever needs it.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez
It's so easy to just focus on yourself and your own life. With so much going on, who has time to think about others? And even more, who has time to think about strangers?
But you know what?
It makes you feel really good. And it's really fun being part of something bigger! Banding together with your friends in a common cause, and putting things out there.
Going outside your own box can be so rewarding. So even though it feels scary, even if you feel silly, just do it!
Challenge: Do something without expecting anything back, not even a thank you -- just for doing something good. It doesn't matter if it's big or small!
Have you been part of a pay-it-forward project? Were you brave by helping a stranger? Let us know in the comments!
Hi, I'm Erika!
I know what it's like living with anxiety and depression, but living and living are very different things. I believe in practical tips and methods, and I will use them to help you be the brave, daring, darling individual you are.
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