A couple of months ago now, I had an off day, as people sometimes do. I hadn't had time to see my friends in a couple of days, one of my friends was obviously upset with me and I didn't know why, I was extremely stressed about my job training, and I'd just eaten dinner by myself for the third or fourth time that week. All these things were weighing down on me as I walked back to my residence hall after my solo dinner, and I was starting to feel really down. My stomach felt hollow, and my chest felt like it was caving in. I felt like nobody even knew that I existed anymore.
Then I passed someone on the sidewalk. It was dark enough outside that I couldn't make out her face -- or I was so upset that it just didn't register, maybe. I did, however, see that she was smiling at me. Her smile was so genuine. She saw me through the darkness (literal and figurative darkness) and just by smiling at me, she shined a bright beam of light into it (strictly figurative light, obviously). I smiled back, and after I passed her I started to cry. In that moment, she knew that I existed, and it was oddly grounding and comforting to have confirmation that I hadn't somehow become invisible or faded from existence.
I got to thinking about how every little thing you do has an impact on others. Every interaction can have a deep impact on someone, and you might not even realize it. Each time you smile, greet someone, have a conversation, give a hug, or send a text to check in, you might be giving someone the mood boost they need or the motivation to keep on keeping on. Alternatively, every time you look up from your phone, make eye contact with someone, and look back down without acknowledging them or seem distracted during a conversation, you could be sending negative messages to the other person that you don't mean to send. There's always the possibility of making or breaking someone's mood/day/week/month with one interaction (or lack of an interaction).
The other day, I was wondering how many people I've already seen for the last time, how many I've interacted with for the last time. What was the last thing I said to those people? Was it kind? Thoughtful? Helpful? Caring? Or was it sarcastic? Salty? Pessimistic? Complaining? Or even angry? There's no way to know. It kills me that the very last effect I've had on someone might be a negative one. I mean, it also kills me that I have had negative effects on anyone, ever, but there's something about a final interaction that seems extra important to me.
It's so important to realize the gravity of every single one your actions. In every interaction, you should strive to leave the other person better off than before your interaction. Don't wander through life in your own little bubble without considering your impact on other people. You don't have to constantly worry about your past actions, but you should be conscious of how you could be affecting others in the present moment. You might not get another chance to be a positive influence on someone's life.