It was 3:00pm on a Wednesday when I finished swimming the last lap of warm-down at practice. I immediately ripped the swim cap off my head and dunked myself underwater to cool off my burning hot cheeks. The pool deck was silent, with some muffled coughing here and there. One of those practices, combined with some middle of the week blues, did not make today any more remarkable than a Friday or a Saturday, to say the least.
All right, now I need to get changed, hike to the library, and study for my midterm exams. Lifting every ounce of strength I had left in my body, I quickly scrambled for my white towel from the bleachers. I brush through my wet hair, throw on some black sweats and a long navy parka. As my roommate and I begin walking towards the exit, I see white specks flurry in the air outside of the transparent doors. Bothered, I aggressively zip up my jacket and pull my hood on top of my head. Here we go, our journey for a long night in a study room begins.
"Can I see your wrist?" the librarian asks us as we enter the library doors. I wave my left arm in front, showing proof that I went to my weekly testing screening appointment for COVID. He glances at my yellow wristband, nods in approval, and I step forward to the front desk, reaching for a library student capacity card. "You're all set!" He kindly chirps, moving his chair in. "Thank you!" my roommate and I say.
We were productively working on our laptops from five to ten at night, disregarding small mental breaks on the library's second floor. I keep my sanity watching five-minute funny YouTube or TikTok clips, or head over to Einstein's Cafe to get myself a refresher and some fruit before heading back to the books.
On our way out of the study room, my eyes feel heavy. My head is pounding from all the hard work my roommate and I were grinding out. When I get back, I cannot wait to change into my fuzzy pajamas, lay in my comfy warm bed, and then pass out. I cannot wait.
When we approach the last step of the staircase to the first floor, a new librarian on duty pushes her glasses on top of the bridge of her nose.
"I like your hair!" she compliments before I return the library capacity card in a plastic container bin. I smile, cracking my knuckles, “Thank you. That was so nice." I admit, reaching for hand sanitizer on the desk.
Once we got outside, my cheeks were hurting from smiling. Although flattered, I scratch my head. My hair is pulled back in a loose low bun to compensate for the lion's mane that dried from the chlorine. No product in it. I did not straighten it because of my workload, but I got a compliment.
That compliment made me look forward to trudging outside in the snow back to my room. That compliment gave me motivation to set myself up for success tomorrow.
Reflecting on that moment, I realized the reason for my confusion was that we do not often receive friendly gestures from people we are unfamiliar with. I came to the realization that we should show our kindness to others more frequently because even the simplest words changed the outlook of my day. What was once a typical college evening to me became an uplifting, positive one.
It is incredible how the smallest gestures can bring the most happiness in our lives. Even something as simple as someone holding the door for us when we leave a building, giving a helping hand to someone when they fall, or shooting a text to check in on our family and friends. As simple as asking, Hey, are you all right? We have the power to replenish our loved ones and energize them to kick start their day.
With all the extremes in the world, we should share our love with others more because every person handles things differently, and you never know what kind of battles someone may be fighting. Every person is always one step away from making a decision in their life, and we have the power to influence them with happiness. Every life deserves happiness. So, next time you see someone, express acts of kindness. Hold the door for them or compliment their outfit. Something as simple as that can put a smile on someone's face.