I don’t know what it’s been lately, maybe it’s the news or the weather but everything has felt generally negative. People seem more rude than normal and it doesn’t feel like any one puts in an effort to be nice to strangers anymore.
As you all know, I recently enrolled back at Carleton, and honestly I’ve been loving it. People ask me quite frequently (I think out of courtesy) how I’m liking school again so far and I always say I’m absolutely in love with my program, and I am. My professors are wonderful, the topics are engaging and I generally like my assignments as well.
The only thing I’ve had a problem with at school is other students. I can go a whole day at school without one person even making eye contact with me and I find that so bizarre. I know they say that millennials are always on their phones and connected through cyber space but not the actual space they are existing in, and it’s true. If we aren’t on our phones avoiding eye contact, we’re just looking the other way. It’s so strange how unable to interact with other people we are as a generation.
I’m sure some people reading this are like “thank god we’re like that, I hate when people stare at me”, but maybe there are also people out there like me who miss and value human interaction.
So here is what I do every day (mainly at school) to remain positive:
1) I make eye contact and smile at at least 1 person a day. It’s a small goal, but there’s something about seeing the look in someones eyes when they weren’t expecting anyone to be friendly towards them that day. It sounds sooo cheesy but I promise you it’s weirdly rewarding.
2) I think about how genuinely blessed I am to be in school. Again, so cheesy. After discussing with some fellow McDonald’s coworkers the other day, we decided that nothing makes you get your shit together faster than working full-time at McDonald’s. If you’re ever feeling ungrateful for your education, take a year off, work 6am-2pm shifts, Monday to Friday at McDonald’s and I promise you when you return to school the next year you’ll be begging to go to class.
3) Try to make friends. I have talked to and gotten aquatinted with at least one person in every one of my classes. Honestly, nothing makes a class go by faster than having someone to discuss the topic with and to make small talk with on the breaks. It makes time feel like it’s going by a lot faster and is also a hell of a lot less lonely.
4) I hold doors open for people. Always. If there is anyone behind me I hold it open. I don’t just push it really hard so it stays open for the next person. No. I take the 30 seconds out of my day to hold the door open for the person behind me. And guess what? I also smile at them when I do it.
5) On a similar note, I say thank you to every person who holds a door open for me. Even though most of them don’t look back to see who they’re actually holding a door open for, as soon as I say “thank you” they usually turn around and say “you’re welcome”. Such a simple way to value people’s efforts.
Anyways, I know these sounds so basic and simplistic but it’s astonishing how little effort people put into human interactions now a days. I know I probably sound like your grand mother who also doesn’t trust cell phones and thinks selfies are the most vain thing in human history even though she doesn’t bat and eye at how long it probably look the portraits of the Queen to be painted. Long winded example but you get my point 😉
My point is, sometimes being surrounded by tons of people who are putting off tons of negative energy can be really defeating, but it’s really easy to become that random act of kindness for someone who otherwise may have been having a shitty day, which in turn might may your day a little brighter too.