“I came upon a doctor who appeared in quite poor health. I said ‘There’s nothing that I can do for you you can’t do for yourself.’ He said, ‘Oh yes you can, just hold my hand, I think that that will help.’ So I sat with him a while and I asked him how he felt. He said, ‘I think I’m cured. In fact I’m sure. Thank you, stranger, for your therapeutic smile.’”
I have been having my fair share of ups and downs lately. Sometimes it feels like every time I’m on solid ground, something happens to knock me over again. But I have a tendency to be very optimistic, and I always try to pull myself up off the floor and say, “Allie, this will get better. It always does. You know it always does, so keep going.” But sometimes it feels like too much. And all of those bad days can build up if you don’t have enough “good” days smushed in there to make things better!
I don’t even know why, particularly, but the last few days, things have been hitting me harder again. Usually if I’m going through bad periods, it’s worse at night but then I wake up and everything is fine. So I was very disheartened when I woke up this morning and already felt sad. There have been a lot of major disappointments in the past few days, so I’m not completely shocked, but I had been trying to keep my negative feelings at bay.
Anyway, there IS a point to all of this! So this morning I was feeling sad and stuck and frustrated, and I didn’t know what to do. So I forced myself to roll out of bed and go get something to eat. (“Don’t just hide in your room all day, Allie!”) So I did, and while I was in line, someone I don’t even really know waved to me happily from across the room as I walked by, which was nice.
I just wanted to get off of campus so I drove out to Walmart to look at Halloween decorations. I bought a few sheets of stickers, and when I was checking out, the cashier asked me what they were for. I told her I was going to use them to decorate letters that I wrote to my friends. She then asked me about my friends, how far away they were, how we had known each other, etc. She was very friendly and kept saying things like “That’s really nice that you still stay in touch,” and “Maybe someday you’ll all be together again, and it’ll be like old times.” And our conversation actually made me feel better. I didn’t even tell her much of anything about my friends—I didn’t even mention that I miss them all the time or anything like that; she just assumed correctly. And her responses were all so genuine and sweet, that it was hard not to be touched by her random interest in my life.
When I got back to campus, I had to park my car pretty far away because there were no spots near my dorm, but that’s fairly typical. But as I got out of my car with my bags, a girl who was unfamiliar to me called out from across the lot and asked if I lived in Lynch Hall, which I do. She said she was going off campus and could drive me to my dorm on the way if I wanted, since the walk is a bit of a pain. I gladly accepted her offer, and it turns out she lives on my floor. We had a nice conversation in the car, and I was very thankful for her ride. For some reason it blew my mind that she had gone out of her way to drive me to my dorm, for no reason at all, other than to be nice. She doesn’t even know me!
I came back to my room with an odd sense of hope. Sometimes, when I feel like I’ve been a lot of negative people, or people who have hurt me, I start to have doubts about the positivity of the world. Everything starts to get lumped together and I make pessimistic generalizations, like “Everyone is actually selfish,” or “No one is as caring as they pretend to be.” And I hate thinking these things, because as I mentioned I am innately optimistic, and it causes a lot of internal tension when I start to view things negatively. But then I get these reminders, that people ARE actually nice. Some people will help out strangers, even when there is no pressure to do so.
A few days ago I was feeling trapped as well, so I went for a walk. A boy came up to me and complimented my hair. We then went on to have a nice conversation about photography. People are actually nice, if you just let yourself be exposed to that kindness! Sometimes I feel like I forget this. But time after time I have experiences like this, when I am feeling really down for some reason, and just then I notice all of the nice things that people actually do. Now, I don’t know if it’s coincidence. Maybe I just don’t notice the random acts of kindness when I am happier, or I take them for granted. But they always seem to come at just the right times. And it really makes me appreciate people. It makes me feel like we are not actually as much “on our own” as we sometimes feel we are.
If you are feeling gloomy, I know that it is often tempting to keep to yourself or hide away from the world. Especially if you feel like people are the reasons for your current state. But maybe try going out and doing things. Try interacting with strangers. (Safely, of course!) Smile at enough people, and at least one is bound to smile back. Maybe one will even start a conversation that will turn your day around. You never know. But try not to make negative generalizations about people… because nice people DO exist!