Bare with me.
Last week, I was told to come pick up a sketchy letter.
I got an email from someone I had never heard of, and that’s all it said. It didn’t say for what or from whom. It just told me the room to get it from.
Lucky for me, it wasn’t in corner of some dark alley way. It listed a familiar office on campus, so I figured I had nothing to lose.
I went to pick up the letter, opened it, and was gladly surprised to find what was inside.
It was a letter addressed to me from a group I had never heard of. They explained to me how my school, James Madison University, was originally an all female college. Over many years, the college has transformed into an multi-gendered university, from half a quad into an entire campus with two sides connecting across a high way. There have been additions, changes, laws, and growth. Because of the students who first stepped foot on this campus over one hundred years ago, the school has become what it is today.
They told me that today, my efforts are making this university stronger as well.
They wrote: “You have shown a passion for excellence and because of your energy, every individual that you have come in contact with has had a better experience during their time here.”
They told me that they chose to recognize me because the joy that I bring to my life and involvement is infectious. They listed all of my leadership involvements: my position as PR & Recruitment Vice President for National Society of Collegiate Scholars (which is weird, because not too many people know this about me) and my newly earned position next year as Senior Class Treasurer. What really freaked me out, is what came next.
They talked about my blog.
So hello, you could be reading this right now.
It didn’t say it was a secret society, or an organization, or a club. It was just a group of people, connecting, encouraging, and inspiring the leaders of JMU—from today, yesterday, and tomorrow.
It told me to report to a certain room with the 11 other selected peers at a certain time next week—which was yesterday night.
So I did.
And it was one of the most rewarding, inspiring, insane, incredible, and odd nights of my life.
I’m still not sure who chose us, or if they were present during the meeting. Nothing on any of the letters said the selection was a secret, but the mystery and anonimity of it all boggled us. One of the guys joked around, searching the room for hidden cameras. We left the door open, we shut it. No coordinators ever came. Only the 8 out of 12 people who showed up.
Even now, it still gives me chills.
You may be the next one nominated—so I won’t spoil all the fun.
But I will say that we were left with a note, a box, and a camera. And we had two hours to sit with each other, talk about our experiences, and create something. Anything.
I was put into a room with seven other strangers (some familiar), and that night we walked out with seven acquaintances—with seven friends.
Every one of us was a different year, or major, and had different achievements and successes to share. Everyone came from somewhere different— New Jersey, Connecticut, Africa. Everyone ended up at JMU for a different reason—and for some, like myself, it wasn’t our first choice. Everyone had a different dream, or passion. One was a tutor, one was a business owner. Some want to teach, some want to act, some want to design, or tell stories, or work in the government creating policy. Some didn’t know at all.
But I think it’s safe to say we all had one thing in common.
The passion to leave an impact on others’ lives.
And through this—we bonded and talked for two hours.
I learned so many things and heard so many stories that at one point, I was so moved that I almost cried.
I could go on forever about what we talked about, but I won’t.
So instead: my favorite part of the night was this one.
An incredible girl who I had the pleasure of getting to know better that night told a story about one of the most powerful things that has ever happened to her, and how it linked back to the situation we were all in that night.
She said that last year she was struggling with a lot in her life. She didn’t tell anyone, and mostly kept it to herself. One day, her roommate came into her room and said, “Hey. I just want you to know that I see you. I see that you are going through something. You don’t want to talk about it, and that’s okay, but I see it. Come talk to me whenever and if you’re ever ready.”
I can only imagine how powerful that must have been for her, because just hearing her tell the story moved me deeply.
“You are seen.”
She told us how that connected to this night. How this letter, to all of us, said: “You are seen.” We didn’t ask to be seen, we didn’t necessarily want to be seen, but we were. And we are. We all are. And sometimes, that’s exactly what we need.
We need to know that we are seen, loved, appreciated. It’s just human of us. Whether it’s a friend comforting us at our worst, or a stranger praising us at our best.
We are humans, and we need to be seen.
Knowing someone knows is an awfully great thing.
Tell someone—anyone today—that you see them.
Tell them that they are alive. They are real. They are important.
I’m telling you to step out of your comfort zone.
Yea, maybe you should go pick up a sketchy letter and show up to a room with strangers on a Monday night.
you are seen.
I see you, and you are loved.