It was just like any other morning. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and went to the same college bathroom I always went into to put on my makeup.
As I rummaged for my makeup bag and stood in front of a mirror, I looked into it only to see a yellow note staring back at me. It said, “Don’t forget to smile!” Surprisingly, it made me smile. I don’t know who left it there or why, but it lifted my mood instantly. Suddenly, the day didn’t seem so typical anymore.
I forgot about that note for a few years. Then one day, it drifted back into my memory. I remembered how much it impacted the rest of my day after I found it. So one morning, as I felt a little too accustomed to my daily commute, I wrote a note. I left it on my seat before getting off the train. I just wanted someone to find it, read it and smile, just like I did.
I wrote notes to strangers like this every so often. I’d write words of encouragement or jot down an inspirational quote, and would leave them on a bus, train, bench or bathroom mirror. I’ll never know if anyone found them, read them, smiled or just tossed them, but that’s not the point. Too often do we go about our daily routines and forget the little things. I wanted people to remember that something small can have a big impact.
But not even I realized how much of an impact a sweet note could make until I stumbled across a TED Talk video where Hannah Brencher spoke about writing love letters to strangers. This inspired me to take my affinity for writing notes for strangers to mailing actual love letters to strangers.
Words are strong and they can hurt, but they can also heal. Sometimes you just want to hear something good. Sometimes you just want to feel appreciated, loved, worthy and important. I thought I was the only one who felt this way, but I know I’m not alone. If a simple note could make my day that much better, imagine what a letter could do for someone going through a tough time.
I’m not confessing my love to someone I don’t know in these letters. But don’t you ever have days where you just feel really low? Or you’re having a super bad day and need something or someone to cheer you up? Some people turn to wine, their puppy or friends and family. I turn to writing.
These strangers don’t write back to me, but that’s OK because I’m not looking for a pen pal. I have pen pals I write to, but these strangers are a little different. There’s something intriguing about writing someone a nice note, not really knowing how they’ll react to it. I believe in the power of kindness and that we’re all just looking for love; I believe these love letters will touch strangers’ souls.
There are countless days we just go through the movements of life. And then there are those moments that make us smile, and it makes the tension disappear for a second. If I can make someone forget about their stress if only for a minute, that puts a smile on my face.