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My Not So Strange Addiction: Saving Notes

Birthday, Christmas, graduation, and thank-you cards. We all get them. Sometimes even little Post-it notes and thinking-of-yous. But every time I see someone toss or recycle them, I shudder a little bit. They don’t want it anymore? How? I don’t consider myself a hoarder, but I can't help it when it comes to notes. I have a box or two filled with little messages I’ve collected over the years up in my closet. I find it comforting.


My old gym teacher used to do the same activity at the end of every school year: a piece of paper would be passed around to all your peers with your name on top. Each person would write a small message, choosing whether to leave it anonymous or not. I still have all my papers. My friends still have theirs. Gym class could easily bring out some insecurities in me; it feels like everyone remembers the time I tripped during the mile run or that everyone was staring at my legs when I didn’t shave my legs in over a month (I mean, shaving your legs in the winter? What’s the point?) But when I got back my 8.5 x 11 piece of paper filled with a menagerie of different handwritings and little compliments, I forgot about all the embarrassments. I now remember the oh-so-awkward days of highschool gym class with fondness, not self-consciousness. 


The oldest note I have is a birthday card from third grade. My childhood best friend wrote it on the school bus the morning before I got on. She got the entire bus to sign it. That card and the mish-mash of little gifts from an eight-year-old is my favorite present I’ve ever gotten– she saved up the Chips-Ahoy cookies in her lunch for a week, put them in a box she got from her basement, and threw in other little knick-knacks. The cookies are long gone, but the note remains. I doubt her or anyone on my elementary school bus remembers writing on a ripped-up piece of a composition-notebook. I would have forgotten about it, too, if I hadn’t kept it. 


Some notes surprise me. I have torn-edged apology notes from my sisters about who-knows-what, thank-you cards from parties I don’t remember attending, little doodles lacking an artist’s signature. Sometimes a memory will spark back up from them; other times, the context remains a mystery. Going through my box, I can see the growth in the disorganized pieces of paper. I see the evolution of a loved one’s handwriting and how important the tiniest things were to me. My life has changed, the people surrounding me may be different, but those notes show me how I got to where I am now.


I think about my gym teacher’s activity a lot. It was a little act of kindness that went a long way. When I need a boost of encouragement, to be reminded that I am loved, I can pull down that box from the top of my closet and know that there are people in my life who took the time to write a note. But it also reminds me that I can have that effect on someone else’s life. Gratitude is essential; I’m still working on sharing my thankfulness. The next time I come across some cute stationery or a stack of Post-It notes wanting to be written on, I’ll try and remember to show my gratitude. Maybe there is another note-hoarder out there, someone like me.

Gabrielle Aldrich, class of '24, is the senior editor for the St. Lawrence chapter of Her Campus. She is double-majoring in sociology and economics, with a minor in English. Outside of academics, Gabrielle is a copy-editor for The Hill News, part of the executive board for St. Lawrence's Habitat for Humanity chapter, and a lifeguard. When she's not editing, Gabrielle enjoys reading, walking, and listening to podcasts.
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