What People Don't Forget
I've been thinking about this quote a lot lately. When I first started at my day job, one of the people who hired me left to start a position in the private sector. She gave me this quote on a magnet, which I always thought was a bit strange since we barely knew each other. But it stuck with me, and recently I think I've started to fully understand it.
When I was finishing my first master's, there were days when I felt like hell. A few months into the program, my coworker announced that she was going to be retiring soon. Suddenly, not only was I pursuing a very rigorous program, but I was facing running an office, and supporting eleven attorneys, all by myself. And with it being a state government position, I knew it would be a long time before we'd be able to hire someone else. It was daunting. I struggled to balance the workload with my master's program, which was especially challenging since I had back-to-back classes requiring group work, and my introverted self was just about tapped out.
At one point, I had eight months of classes with no breaks, and the classes were each eight weeks long. So from January until August, I was constantly writing papers, working on projects, and trying to coordinate schedules with other busy adults. It was a nightmare, and there were days I considered quitting.
It was July, and I had just started another new class that had a huge group project. I was already dreading it, but first, we had a slightly smaller project to complete with a group of about five people. I have never considered myself a leader, but my grades in grad school really mattered to me, so I forced myself into a role way outside of my comfort zone. After reading the syllabus for this class, I heaved a heavy sigh, gathered my strength, and went to work coordinating the first meeting. The meetings actually went pretty well, and I had some hope that things might be different in this class (spoiler alert, they weren't). But that's not what stuck with me. One kind soul lightened my mood tremendously with an offhand joke they probably don't even remember, and then later on gave me a shout out in a discussion post.
I didn't realize how much I needed one small act of kindness when my life was starting to feel out of control. Don't get me wrong, my husband was trying to be supportive and the attorneys I worked for also strived to make sure I knew how appreciated I was. But for reasons I can't explain, this person's comments were like a life preserver I didn't know I needed. It wasn't so much what they said, but it was, as the quote above notes, how they made me feel. Seen. Respected. Like not only what I was doing mattered, but also that I, as a person, mattered.
So often I hear that it's more important for you to love and validate yourself, and I would agree with that. But I think sometimes outside validation helps, especially in moments like I described above where we are just trying to survive. One word, one action, can make all the difference.
Has someone's small act of kindness made a huge difference in your life? Tell me about it in the comments.
Book reviews, random thoughts, and writing samples from an aspiring author.