Small Gestures Can Have The Greatest Impact

woman wearing white dress standing on hill with green grass under white cloudy sky
Matthew Henry / Unsplash

“When something bad happens to you, you can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.”

This quote has been floating around online for so long that finding the origin would be a highly difficult task. I’ve seen it countless times and I’ve allowed myself to skip over it just as many. I’ve always seen it as another motivational internet quote and moved on. Recently, it was sent to me directly by someone who knows that I’ve been struggling quite a bit lately.

My depression was at an all time high and I was constantly frustrated, upset, annoyed, and irritable — any negative emotion that you can think of fit my mindset perfectly. I’ve been harboring these feelings for a while now. For a good while, I was doing a fabulous job at keeping them buried. There’s also the cliche saying that holding things in is like shaking up the soda bottle — nothing will happen right away, but when you go to open it there’s an explosion. That’s what happened.

I knew I was unhappy in my situation and I wanted something to change. I didn’t realize the extent of it until I was in, well, a fairly conveniently inconvenient place. I was in Las Vegas visiting with some friends when my depression hit me like a brick wall. I remember shutting down a lot — my friends asked if I was okay more than a few times, but I didn’t want to burden them with the thoughts that were racing through my head. I didn’t want to be the downer.

I say it was conveniently inconvenient, because I’m fairly sure that my friends were reading me like a book. They were seeing straight through me trying to say that I was fine, but they weren’t pushing my boundaries. They accepted the answer, but still did their best to get me up and going, to get me to have a good time and to maybe take my mind off of things. I can’t thank them enough for this.

We were standing on the top of the Stratosphere looking over Las Vegas on my last night there. It wasn’t like seeing the stars in the night sky, but it was beautiful in its own way. I was brought to tears by something so simple as seeing something beautiful.

My depression was obviously not cured that night, but it stays in my memory as something I need to remember. I felt included, appreciated, as if I mattered. I knew that I mattered to the people I was with. Long distance friendships are difficult, but I can say that these people have shown me some of the only true friendships that I’ve had.

On the way to the airport the next day I was telling the person driving me about the Stratosphere. I couldn’t accurately explain my emotions from the night before. I struggle to explain to people that I cry when I care about people because I know how easy it could be for them to leave. It’s grown to be more of an expectation that people will, and I knew — and still know — that I don’t want those friendships to be temporary. I don’t want any of those friendships to be something that becomes another fleeting relationship in my life.

I know now though that there are people that care, even when it feels like there aren’t. There are people that want me to succeed. I’ve had those in my life that left in ways that I would almost consider cruel. I blame them for my guard, for my frustration, for my unhappiness, when in reality, it’s myself. I was letting this negativity define and destroy me — I was letting these people take away parts of me that make me who I am.

I know that these friendships — the people that stood with me at the Stratosphere while I cried with no explanation, the people that came and talked to me while I was alone and near tears, the people that asked if I was okay when they heard so much as a sniffle — are what friends are supposed to be. They aren’t taking away parts of what I am. In fact, the smallest gestures that they made helped me realize that I’m not destroyed. I’m not defective or broken. I’m worthy. I’m someone that is worthy of time, even if it’s just a quick check in to see how things are.

About this trip was short and quiet, it helped me realize that I’m stronger than I thought. I won’t let the negativity define my character. I won’t let the negativity destroy me. I can push through it and come out stronger than before. I won’t say that I depend on this solely; there is so much in life that’s worth living for. I will say, though, that even the smallest gestures can help someone realize that they’re stronger, that they’re a fighter and that they shouldn’t give up. I know that now. I am a fighter. I am stronger than I thought. I am worth more than I credit myself for. And I’m going to make it through. Thank you for teaching me what I’m truly capable of. TC mark

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