Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. – William Arthur Ward
About a year after I finished my university degree, I awoke realizing that I was not happy at all. I had taken a job in Asia teaching English on the vague assumption that I might there find (or figure out) what I wanted to do with my life. I was lost, and getting even more lost seemed like it might help.
I had spent those four previous years of college being whoever I thought I needed to be to make the best of each situation. I talked Plato with my philosophy classmates.
I played sports because it felt like a rite of passage. I partied every weekend because I always had a nagging feeling that the night I chose to stay in would be the night something amazing happened.
It seemed like I was putting one foot in front of the other until some sort of definite purpose presented itself to me.
So, I took off to Asia. Things were good at first. The lights, sounds and smells that I’d never experienced before electrified me with the kind of heart-pounding life-lust that can only compare to the first stages of falling in love.
After that faded, it didn’t take long for me to spiral, and I suddenly found myself in a self-imposed hole of self-deluding and fear.
All of the insecurities I carried with me through university started pulling me down. Things I had covered up and things I didn’t understand yet suddenly became the only thing I could think about.
It felt like everybody I knew had their lives together and were laser focused on where they were going. I felt like I was walking in the woods after dark.
What if I never figure out what to do with my life? What if I never find the love and friendship I need to be happy? What am I here for? What should I be directing my energies toward? What do I do?
Finding Light in the Darker Moments
These questions piled up like dirty laundry and I hadn’t the change to take them to the laundromat. I couldn’t see past the thoughts bouncing around between my head and eyes. I felt all alone.
I was afraid of reaching out to people about it because I didn’t want them to know the struggles I was experiencing. I wanted to hide that part of me and never see it again. I thought showing these feelings would be acknowledging that I was incomplete, and that it would break any lingering sense of self control that I had left.
By chance or by fate, some friends reached out to me in one of my darker moments. It felt like a glowing hand had lit up my private dark corner. They talked to me about their lives and asked me about mine. They really wanted to know what I was going through- I was on a once in a lifetime trip, after all.
I don’t even think they knew how much it had meant to me at the time, but I know how it felt- it felt like I was somebody real again, like I mattered. I was missed.
The light they helped bring in to my life wasn’t some grand life plan I was searching for, but it was just as important. It helped me realize that people are capable of giving more meaning that anything else we construct in our heads.
Help Spread the Word – and the Love
A few months ago, someone very close to me was going through a similar experience. She had recently moved to a new city and was missing her friends and family and the purpose and direction their presence had always given to her in the past. I decided to try to help.
What stemmed became the project now known as OvationBox.
I reached out to all of her closest friends and family members and had them write a short letter about how much they appreciated, loved, or cared about her. They mentioned times she’d made them feel fantastic, things she’d done for them in the past, and reasons why she was so important to them.
These were collected and printed, and I gave them to her for her birthday. Remember how happy you felt the last time you received a personal letter? Imagine getting them from everybody who cares about you all at once.
Because of this success, we’ve decided that the world needs more love and a better way to spread it. Electronic messages aren’t enough. We’re kicking off a Kickstarter campaign to let people spread more love sooner and easier.
Help us spread the word today and make gratitude a central part of your life. When it seems like you’re all alone, force yourself to find people you’re happy to know and to tell them how you feel.
You never know where they are on their own personal journey, and at that moment, you might be just what they needed.