This I Believe

Alex - State College, Pennsylvania
Entered on December 11, 2006

What Happened to “Hello?”

I believe in saying “hello.” Being openly friendly reflects well, and it makes others feel good. Sometimes all it takes is a nice smile and “hello” from somebody to turn a bad day around. I’m not saying that I believe in stopping everybody you see and asking how their day is going. I believe simply in acknowledging one another.

My graduating class in high school was no bigger than 120 students. Everybody knew each other by their full names, what sports they played, who they dated last, and what type of grades they got. This is what I was faced with when I transferred there. A power plant had moved into my backyard, and my family was forced to relocate. Transferring to a new school was the first time in my life that I had to stray from my comfort level. I was the talk of the school because I was the “new kid.” Being the shy kid that I am, I was very reserved for the first few weeks. I didn’t quite know what to do. I didn’t really talk to anyone, and I didn’t really acknowledge anyone. Not surprisingly, people weren’t exactly drawn to me. Eventually, I decided to acknowledge people. I started to smile and say “hello” as I passed people in the halls. When I would sit down in class, I would say “hello” to the person sitting next to me. Before I knew it, I had a few friends in each class. Each week I was getting more and more familiar with people. It wasn’t long before word had spread that I was a good kid. All of a sudden I had a solid group of friends, I was joining sports teams, and I almost immediately began to like this new school much better.

Today, I will tell you that I would go back to high school any day. It was a great four years and I met some awesome people. After two years of college, many people lose contact with their high school friends. I get a call from every one of my best high school friends every week. Being friendly had completely changed the way people thought of me. At first, I was perceived as “stuck up,” weird, and introverted. Smiling and saying “hello” to my fellow classmates made people want to be around me. Now, I have friends that I would not trade for the world.

I believe that saying “hello” to people can make a world of difference in how you are perceived. It feels much better to get a smile and “hello” from somebody than a cold shoulder. I know that it’s a bit intense to say “hello” to everybody you see, but if it’s somebody you recognize, smile and wave. They won’t bite.