Why Random Compliments Matter

It was one of those days when I wore the same sweatshirt I had slept in to class and lip balm was the closest thing to makeup that was on my face. I had a million and a half things to do and not enough time to do most of them, but I was going to die trying.

I was posted in the library all day with a couple of my friends, surviving on iced coffee and granola bars, when a random stranger taught me something that I feel compelled to share.

I left the group and went to the bathroom, relieved that I could pretend for five minutes that I didn’t have an eight-page paper due tomorrow with an empty Word document and a blinking cursor staring me in the face. I was washing my hands when the blonde girl next to me says, “Sorry if this is weird, but I think you look super pretty.” I look up under the brim of my Cubs baseball hat, almost certain that she was talking to someone else, someone who didn’t look like a hobo.

She wasn’t. I awkwardly thanked her and said something cheesy about how I only wear men’s clothes on Mondays, but then she continued, “I’m a freshman and I think it’s really strange how people don’t give random compliments here. I think people would be a lot happier if they did.” She just smiled and walked away.

I went back to working on my essay but I couldn’t stop thinking about this girl and how she was absolutely right. When was the last time that you made conversation with someone you didn’t know, let alone gave them a compliment? We are so stuck in our own little bubbles that we forget that these people who go to school with us every day, also go back home every night – all these faces that we see walking across the Diag each morning aren’t simply faces, they’re people with worries and hopes and insecurities just as complex as our own.

We’re all just kids going through the same shit and we’re so much more than classmates – we, as peers, know what it’s like to go to the University of Michigan in the year 2016, which is a perspective that isn’t easily found in the real world. We can relate to each other so much more than we think we can, but we choose to stay in our own lanes until the weekend, we choose to only care when it’s convenient and fun. It is so easy to be selfish in college and to put yourself first every single day; but that girl in the library bathroom taught me that there is always time to be spent on each other. Even if it’s as simple as telling an overtired, stressed, hangry girl that she doesn’t look half bad in a baseball hat.

Images Courtesy of: Giphy and Virtual Popstar