Notes to Strangers

It has taken a lot of effort for both students and staff to get used to being in-person this school year. Most students have gotten used to waking up minutes before class and then just falling back asleep during the call. It was a blessing to many people, but also a curse in terms of mental health. Being isolated, stuck inside, and deprived of socialization, caused a good amount of students to feel alone and unmotivated.

“Isolation, being online and procrastinating, and not being able to go out and see your friends made quarantine a tough time,” sophomore Mizuki Fukuda said.

During quarantine, different little things made me happy. Opening a window to get fresh air and direct sunlight, going through a drive-thru to get a small meal or my friends swinging by in their cars to say happy birthday to me – I had grown to love these small occurrences. Sometimes we just need to sit back and find happiness during the seemingly bad parts of our lives.

“Something small that makes me happy is when I’m having a bad day and someone compliments me,” junior Charlotte Lin said. 

I am an active advocate for mental health awareness, and I am all about spreading joy and happiness around. I am always looking for new ideas to do so. Scrolling through TikTok the other day, I stumbled across a video by user @hunterprosper who goes around cities giving notes to strangers. These notes have happy, motivational, inspirational sayings. The series is simply called “Notes to Strangers.” In the past, I had painted rocks with happy images or nice quotes and left them around town, but this series was another level. I was inspired to follow in his footsteps to spread happiness. Putting rocks around town was fun and rewarding to do, but handing a note directly to a stranger sounded scary but also exciting. Handing off these notes could lead someone to run by a new motto or help them create a new goal.

“A certain motto I live by is YOLO,” senior Zeha Ahmed said. “I say that to everyone before every race and test.”

When people compliment me, I think about it for days or sometimes even months. It makes me feel like the person found something so unique about me, that they take the effort to reach out and let me know. It makes me feel warm and confident. I started off complimenting my friends, and after seeing their smiles and appreciation, it escalated to complimenting strangers, who took it even sweeter than my friends did. Seeing how strangers light up after I offer my nice words motivated me to pass notes out to strangers.

“A small compliment that made me happy is when someone said they like my hair,” Mizuki said.

I started to pass out notes to strangers about a week ago. A few examples of things I would write are: “You have a beautiful smile, wear it proudly.” “Take the leap, it could be amazing.” “It is in your power to make your story a good one.” All of the notes would be signed off as “-note from a stranger.” It was scary at first because I didn’t know how some people would react. When I started handing them off, people would look confused, but they would still take the note. Without saying anything, I would walk away. After a few seconds, I’d turn around and they’d be looking my way and smiling. It was so rewarding to see the happiness on people’s faces when they are given these notes. Because there are a lot of students and only one of me, I have decided to create a box for Clements filled with notes from a stranger. Hopefully, people are able to go and grab as they please to add a spark to their day.

“I was given a very kind note by a girl and it honestly made my day,” freshman Ethan Lo said. “I was genuinely surprised and happy that someone did this and it helped me finish school happy.”