The school year is winding around again, and frankly, I’m slightly nervous. That’s a lie; I’m absolutely terrified. For me, Wellesley has been an academically rigorous and emotionally draining experience that often left me in a fetal position on the side of my bed. Granted, sometimes fetal positions are quite comfortable. But that’s beside the point.
Fact 1: Wellesley is hard. Fact 2: There are Wellesley women everywhere that are
A. succeeding, in which they deserve some applause or
B. struggling academically, in which they deserve some encouragement or
C. exhausted, in which they need some comfort, rest, and encouragement
No matter where a person is, a word of encouragement, comfort, or congratulations is always appreciated, especially if it’s done in the right tone. In the stressful mess that can be Wellesley, I want to learn how to show appreciation to the wonderful people in my life more. Appreciation works both ways; when you show appreciation, you gradually cultivate a more positive outlook on life, and the person in your life that you love can feel loved and affirmed.
Before I move on, appreciation is supposed to be a two-way street, but sometimes it isn’t. You have to set the expectation that you might get nothing in return. That person you show your appreciation to might be too busy or not think to show you love or appreciation in return. Giving the gift is enough and receiving the smile of the person in front of you is enough. In a nutshell, you give appreciation to show love, not to receive it. If you go around campus handing out cards trying to earn people’s love, you might get some smiles, but you also might come up empty. This is all about the other person, not about you.
So let’s get to it! Here are five ways to show appreciation to someone.
- Write a card or a letter. This sounds basic, because it is. But not enough people do it, so let’s stick with the oldies but goodies. We all have that one friend who may be in college and not enjoying it at all. They might be lonely, or hate their classes, or be homesick. Whatever it is, a handwritten card with some cheesy pick-up lines or cute friendship quotes might just do the trick. The coolest part? When that person is upset or facing a hard time, they can always take out your cards and re-read them. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
- Food. If you know a Wellesley girl, you know her major love language is food. Look at that empty tray of brownies at Lulu. There’s your proof. When you are out and about Boston, pick up something small for someone back home. Perhaps it’s a bubble tea or a chocolate truffle. Or even show up at their door with a mug of tea and a book. Offer to share a meal or cook a meal together, and by cooking a meal I mean everything from ramen dates to spaghetti nights. Food feeds friendship.
- Be aware. When Wellesley gets itself going, many of us enter survival mode. Sure, we hang out with friends or go to club meetings, but often we enter a very personalized mode that makes us think about what is best for us. Because many of us adopt a Wendy Wellesley face, we might need a little prodding to admit we aren’t doing well. I’m not saying go interrogate your friends about how they are feeling, but check up on them. Notice the little things about them that may indicate that they aren’t feeling well or are struggling. It can be easy to get tunnel vision, but if people know that someone is looking out for them, it actually means a lot. As a first year, one of my best friends continually barged into my dorm room with a “how are you”, and that made a world of a difference. She helped me to be honest with myself when I wanted to pretend that everything is okay.
- Celebrate people. If someone succeeds, celebrate! If it’s someone’s birthday, celebrate! If someone just got their first job, celebrate! This can be harder than it looks, especially if your friends happen to be more successful than you. Don’t play the comparison game and try to be happy for their accomplishments.
- Giving your time. What can be really stressful about Wellesley is time management; no one has enough time. So do the little things. Be willing to stop and spend time with people. Show that you care by making the effort to spend time. Make that lunch date happen, even when your schedules are horribly incompatible. Be there, especially when it’s inconvenient.
Wellesley as a liberal arts college is supposed to help us learn how to be well-rounded capable human beings. If we concentrate solely on our academic and personal well-being but never learn how to love the people around us, how can we change the world? It might not seem like much, but a card or a cookie may be a good place to start.
Happy Labor Day, and I hope you have a wonderful semester!