write — journal — plan

The Difference one small smile can make.

Child smiling When My parents dropped me off a college, I was an extremely shy 18 year old girl. I mean EXTREMELY shy, afraid to talk to anyone I didn’t already know. I remember being so worried about making friends because I’m not great with conversations. My brain freezes up. The words in my head come out of my mouth all wrong. (I hope I’m a better writer than orator.)

So I knew I’d have to find my own unique way to make friends. I wondered what I could do, and then I came up with an idea: Smile and say hello to every person I passed.

I could do that much. I could be a friendly face. And so I did it. I consciously smiled and said hello to EVERY person I passed on the sidewalks and in buildings.

Can you guess what happened? One month after landing on campus, I was elected to be the freshman class representative on the homecoming court! Me! Quiet. Shy. Ultra introverted. Hunch-shouldered, Hider behind armloads of books. Library worker. Girl with no knowledge of makeup or fashion. A wall flower. Me!

I went from someone no one saw to someone who “saw” everyone. I’m sure when those of us who had been nominated to homecoming court had to stand up and introduce ourselves at chapel, people thought, “oh, I recognize her. She the girl who always says hello.” I know they didn’t know me for my vivacious personality!

What a difference one small act made to my college experience!

I continue to keep that habit to this day. Sometimes people look at me and smile. Sometimes people walk on by consumed in their phones or thoughts. But it’s nice when I get a smile from someone who has just been frowning. I hope maybe, just maybe, I’ve brightened their day because experience has taught me that a smile can make all the difference!

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