My senior spring in college, I took an English class (Short Fiction) with my then-boyfriend, and we would spend a big portion of the class tearing off little sheets of paper from our notebooks, and writing messages to one another. Most of the messages were silly, things like, "do you want to get lunch at the campus center after this?" and "do you want to go to Jake's party tonight?" But once in a while, they'd be pretty good. And one note in particular I remember to this day.
I was feeling really overwhelmed, I had only a few weeks until graduation, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life after college, it seemed like I'd never survive the final weeks of the semester and exams and all the work it entailed. In retrospect, it seems like silly stuff to have been so stressed out about, but at the time, it seemed like a really big deal. And for some reason, I guess I started to cry in the middle of Short Fiction. Actually, it wasn't crying so much as tears started to come out of the corners of my eyes. And John passed me a little torn-off corner of his notebook page with a message reminding me of how far I'd come, reminding me of how much I'd accomplished, reminding me that I'd been successful at everything I'd attempted. He told me there was no reason to feel badly about things. And that little slip of paper made me feel a whole lot better. I kept it for a long time, in my wallet, and whenever I'd feel down, or lacking confidence, I'd carefully unfold it and re-read its encouraging contents.
Two years ago I lost my wallet, and I lost that slip of paper. It's funny that of all the things I've lost in my life, that is one of the things that pains me the most: a silly little piece of paper. But it does. Some days I really miss it, I miss having something that tells me I can do anything, and that it's going to be alright.