Over the course of the last week or so, I've received a tremendous amount of encouragement: uplifting feedback at work, glowing praise for my creative projects, comments on posts and videos I wasn't sure would get comments, an enthusiastic and out-of-the-blue message from someone I haven't seen in forever, kind and thoughtful words from a close friend who was thinking of me, a phone call expressing a newfound appreciation for the videos I make...and that's to say nothing of the love notes my wife regularly sneaks into my lunch, or the smiles I get from strangers in the elevator when my attempts to be friendly and funny actually work.
We get so wrapped up in living for ourselves sometimes that it's easy to forget we're not alone. We get used to living inside our own heads; often we don't think about how important we are to others or how important they are to us until a strong reminder shakes us out of our self-reverie. Sometimes all it takes is an impromptu bouquet of flowers or a cheerful e-mail. Other times it's a story on the news that's too close to home, a car accident, or a suicide note. I feel like a dork sometimes when I try to say or do something nice when there's no holiday or event that prompts me to, but it's usually worth that fleeting moment of awkwardness to make that connection with someone. From the self-conscious convention-goer who thinks her costume is terrible to the chef at the breakfast buffet who's making perfect omelets, we have countless opportunities to give encouragement to total strangers—how many more opportunities do we have with the people we know?
How many opportunities do we let slip because we assume our love and appreciation go without saying?
For what it's worth, and at the risk of sounding awkward, I'm grateful for your encouragement. Doesn't matter if I know you personally or if we've never met before. Whether it's a "thinking of you" phone call, an exclamation from across the parking lot that you love my t-shirt, a huge hug, or a simple Like for something I post on Facebook or YouTube, it all makes a difference.