“You are glorious.” A little orange Post-It note hung neatly near the top of the full-length mirror in the women’s bathroom. A few days later, “You are BEAUTIFUL!” appeared on a yellow note across from it, scrawled in different handwriting.
For the moment the women in my office building stood in front of that mirror–presumably while adjusting their outfits, fixing their hair, and/or analyzing their frames–little compliments smiled back at them. In the very place we women often find the most criticism, we were instead met with paper positivity that disrupted any insecurity or self-inflicted cruelty.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly thought patterns can be disrupted, if given real focused (or neon) attention and effort? I think about monks who meditate, controlling their cerebral musings with ancient abilities built only by consistent, disciplined effort. Do their minds ever wonder or come after them? Probably not. Practice makes perfect, I suppose.
But then again, they probably don’t have Post-it notes.
Someone had thought to write out the first simple compliment there on our Western West Coast mirror. Moreover, someone else felt compelled to contribute and silently support both the first writer and every reader thereafter.
I can’t remember exactly, but those small 3 x 3 in. squares must’ve hung there for close to two weeks. I kept meaning to return with my own note of encouragement and to add to the pair–the invitation seemed open–but alas, I never remembered. And then one day, they were gone and their absence felt stark and abrupt. I’d grown used to them.
Returning to my desk and mentally kicking myself for not having been more responsible or feeling the sense of urgency that I apparently needed to, I unpacked my emotions around it.
Why did this feel significant? Not the notes per se, but the gestures made by this pair of unknown lady wordsmiths.
Well for one thing, the actions were unequivocally kind, and that alone is worthwhile in mentioning. I’m trying harder than ever to notice pure kindness when it brushes past me, and acknowledge it. I mean, really acknowledge it. Perhaps it’s my roundabout way of combatting darkness and dread. A personal protest for the light. Similarly, these Post-its in the ladies room felt significant for their power to scramble negativity.
Is it not innately human to really hold onto and recall the negative words people have said and the subsequent wounds bored into psyches and self-esteems? It’s easier to recall and personally define ourselves by the failures, missteps, and embarrassments, rather than by our successes, triumphs, and truly glorious beauty.
I mean, in that very same mirror I’ve analyzed myself, recalled the whispers of childhood bullying, and wished my hips were narrower or that my hair wasn’t so frizzy. In fact, I think I’ve gotten so used to that rapid-fire narrative that its humming white noise dampens my ability to hear the good stuff too.
So yeah, those little pieces of paper were significant.
And they got me thinking… What are the other bright notes of encouragement in my life?
How can I really pay attention and commit those love letters to memory, so that I may continue to disrupt and combat the dull roar of insecurity in my own life?
And how can I continue to cultivate those bright notes of encouragement for others? Keep my protest alive and spread the dissent?
Join me in this, won’t you?
“Be an encourager, the world has enough critics already.”