Back in 2012 when the song “Little Things” by One Direction came out, I remember thinking of all the people I cared about and the small things they did that I loved about them. I also remember thinking of all the things I have done for people, of how small some of them were. A text good night, making breakfast for my family because I felt like it, or even packing a snack for my brother when I knew he was running late for work.
They were all just little things…
Or so I thought they were.
Yesterday on a trip to my old high school, a place I swear I am never going to stop learning from, my perspective was changed. I went to go visit some of my favorite teachers in Advisory, as well as deliver a book to those I mentioned in my dedication: “…my outstanding English teachers Mrs. Hillesland and Ms. Mann.” To me, writing any of the people who were a major part of the journey into my dedication was a small and simple thing. It almost felt like common sense to mention two of the people who taught me to love and explore the English language as far as I can take it.
Like I said, it was one of those little things.
But to them, it wasn’t small, it wasn’t completely practical. It was a big thing, a sign of success, the kind that I know teachers receive so much less of than they deserve with the amount of time they put into all of us. In that moment I realized that I had actually made an impact with just a few words. I understood something that took this idea of little things in another direction: Maybe the little things are never as small as they seem— maybe there are no little things.
Think of all the quirks you have and the small instances of expressed gratitude or love you give people. They all mean something don’t they? Even just the words you say or how simple something seemingly complicated really is. For someone else, it could mean the world.
For instance, last week Friday, I had the honor to speak at the first Teen Council meeting of the school year at our Folsom Public Library. I spoke to the high school students about who I am, why I write, what writing means to me, and how I got to where I am today— published author and all. For me, this is all part of my first step in the right direction, it is just the beginning of the amazing journey I am on. But for them, it’s inspiration, an opportunity, and it is the chance to know that they are allowed to go after something they want. I’m sure I could have told them more about getting through high school or graduating, but there was so much I wanted to say that I just kept going until I ran out of air. In my mind, I wasn’t sure what kind of impact I could have made within those fifteen minutes, but somehow by the end of it, I had still made one.
Afterwards, one of the girls came up to me and asked about writing poetry or how to really get going. She questioned, “Do you have any tips or any advice for someone who writes poetry too?” It was a pretty loaded question, I had to think about what I could possibly say as a solid answer for that… What advice helped to get me here and what do I wish I had known earlier? So I was honest.
I remember looking at her and smiling, because it felt like talking to a younger version of myself, a version that wasn’t too scared to ask the questions without true answers. I told her what I knew: Write about how you feel. Be honest with yourself and write about it all, do not hold back. Don’t worry about rhyme, rhythm, meter, or structure right now… Just write. Because if you are honest with yourself and you can write something real, something raw, the rest will follow as you learn about it. But honesty, that is something you must teach yourself first.
It felt like an easy thing to say, like something anyone I could have asked would have done for me when I started writing. But who knows, maybe she will take it to heart and keep writing, keep learning about herself. Maybe this could be her first step on a new path. Because when I look back at how I got to where I am right now, it took a lot of twists, turns, detours, and mistakes to make my own life something I wanted to build upon. I guess you could say that even the “little things” people did for me were the stepping-stones to get me to my journey.
Maybe it’s holding the door open for someone or the “I love you’s” that slip out to other people without thinking about it, they all add up. Call it karma, or juju, or whatever you want to think of it as, these things hold more impact than any of us could imagine. I’m not saying that each of us has the power to completely change the world or anything, but I am telling you all that everything you do matters.
From giving advice in the library to writing my dedication, these were both actions I took without thinking. It ties into the snowball effect of life; the pieces of our lives, the good and the bad, that build up on each other to push us in one direction or another. In the end, I’d like to believe that it is our choice to put out more good than bad.
If we want to, we can keep doing what we believe are little things in hope that maybe they can become the big things. The kind that make a difference. In a quote from one of my favorite books, Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why, “Everything… affects everything.” He was talking about how we treat others, how people have the ability to push and affect others as much as we want to, without regard for them or repercussion. At some point, the paths that we are all on tend to cross and we have the power to make that crossroads something positive, to leave something good behind before we move on.
Next time you compliment someone’s hair, hold the door open for another person, or even just tell someone important “I love you”, try to remember that there are no little things and that our lives can truly impact others. Let One Direction remind you that people are made of quirks that you can love about them, but also let Jay Asher remind you that every action we take has an impact.
Like he said, Everything affects everything. So let it be something good.
P.S. For anyone in Folsom who wants to take a look at my book without buying it, you can now check it out from the Folsom Public Library and the library at Vista Del Lago High School! Don’t forget to follow my posts which will soon be switching from every Thursday to every Friday 🙂 Can’t wait to see everyone at my book signing at Nicholson’s MusiCafe from 10-2 on Saturday!