The Little THings

Caitlin - Cypress, Texas
Entered on December 2, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in the power of little things. I believe small, kind acts are the ones that matter most. In the struggle of day-to-day life, I have found that the smallest gestures can have the biggest impact. Starting college this year at the University of Texas at Austin, I knew I was bound to have my share of ups and downs. The first few weeks were particularly brutal – I felt the weight of my schoolwork crushing down on me, my lack of social contacts isolating me, and my irregular sleeping habits exhausting me. On my way to the library one day, I was feeling so down I didn’t even know what to do with myself. I was not living the college experience that I had so readily bought into. My arms were overflowing with a mess of objects – books, a drink, phone, keys, wallet, etc. As I approached the front door to the building, the young man in front of me entered and shut the door, simply disregarding the fact that I was behind him with full hands. That small single incident made me feel like I was going to topple over the edge. Could he not have taken two seconds of his time to open the door for someone who was obviously in need of assistance? I felt embarrassed and frustrated, feeling the urge to burst into tears at that very moment. As I began to rearrange the objects in my arms to magically find a way to free one of my hands, a different young man inside saw my struggle. He walked over to the door, held it open for me, and smiled. I walked through the door, smiling back at him, overcome with warmth for this stranger who performed such a seemingly meaningless act. It was such a small gesture – opening the door – yet it meant so much to me. I proceeded to find a table and began my studying, but the entire time, in the back of my mind, were thoughts of that gentleman. I found that throughout the day, my mood began to lighten and my entire attitude change. At the beginning of that day, I could barely manage to drag myself out of bed. But by the end I was walking with a skip in my step and a smile on my face. And I realized that my changed mood, my happiness, was due to the simple act of having a door held open for me. Even though this act was small, it was enough to lift me out of my emotional black hole. I believe in the power of small gestures like these. I believe that a simple act – helping someone pick up a dropped book, holding the door open, or even a smile while walking down the street – can have the capacity to change lives. Showing kindness in these pure, simple forms has proved vital to my happiness. Small gestures have the largest effects on my life – I believe in their significance.