What to Keep While Keeping On: The hope in handwritten notes

Obviously, I think words are important. If I didn’t believe in the power of them, I wouldn’t be writing this. However, despite the positive abilities that words have, they can also be abusive. I think now more than ever, we are seeing the ugly, hateful side of writing. 

Whether you are constantly checking the news, looking through Moodle or scrolling through comments on Tik Tok, you know how draining words can be. Not only has reading other people’s words become a challenge but so has expressing my own. I get stuck thinking about what adjective to use or if I should split one sentence into two. I also know I am not the only one feeling burnt-out. 

Now, during a time when we’re constantly shoveling social media captions, text messages and blogs into our minds, it is important for us to focus on the words that lift us. We could use a detox from the unnecessary comments in our lives. For this reason, we should reflect on the words that we hold closest to us. 

We all have a note pinned to our bulletin board, written in the margins of our notebook or tucked away in an envelope. Although often scrawled messily on the oddest forms of scrap paper, written messages are one of the most common keepsakes.  

I think there is something bold about handwritten notes. Whether you write them for yourself or someone else writes them for you, these mementos are reminders of a time when everything was slowed down to say something meaningful. For all the fluff and small talk that fills our lives, notes are a reminder that not all words are meant to add worry to our lives. 

When someone gifts you a written message, time was taken to remember a saying, to express feelings and to encourage you. How often do we take a chunk out of our day to put pen to paper?  

We all need to start thinking about which words in our lives truly matter and which ones are offering us nothing of importance. Too often do we forget that we have control over which words affect our attitudes.  

Most of the time, when we are hurt by words, they are said by people who don’t even matter to us. I find that giving someone irrelevant the power to change my frame of mind is ridiculous. However, like you, I also forget that I have the ability to filter the words in my life. 

Maybe, instead of consuming the words of unimportant people, you should reintegrate the words of loved ones into your life. I know you have these notes of admiration saved somewhere. Find them. 

“You will do well.” 

“You only get 10 things to worry about!” 

“You’re my favorite.” 

“We love and miss you bunches!” 

“I wanted to try and cheer you up a little, so I got you a little gift! Your favorite fruit!” 

These are all phrases that make me smile even after the original moment has passed. With every sliver of a message I just shared with you, I have the full note folded away in a bin on my bookshelf. I hold onto these scraps of paper not because they are the most beautifully written love letters but, rather, because they are honest. 

And I think I speak for everyone when I say we could use more realness in our lives. 

The most important aspect to remember about handwritten notes is that it is okay if they are messy. If there is a spelling or grammar mistake, so what? Comma placement is not everything. Sharing your feelings toward someone is. Notes do not have to look or be read in a certain way. Words are meant to be what you, as the writer, want them to be. There are no rules, I promise. 

If you don’t happen to have any special messages that you clutch onto, I encourage you to not be disappointed. Instead, make a change. Be the one to share your words with others. 

Leave a sticky note on your roommate’s desk for them to wake up to. Mail your grandparents a card. Slip a letter under the office door of the professor you always look up to. 

In all honesty, words do not need to be perfectly written to change someone’s life. Expressions can be laid out in cursive on fancy stationery or scribbled on a paper napkin. Both ends of the spectrum have value. The freedom that words have is what makes them beautiful. 

So, take a moment to put all the unnecessary sentences aside. Shuffle through that old shoebox of yours or look through your cluttered bulletin board to find the notes that do matter. Read those lovely words that add to your life. Then, read them again. And again.  

Feed your mind nurturing words. Start a cycle of positivity. Make it a habit to fuel yourself with these expressions of love every day. Once you have a smile on your face, pick up your pen and start writing. While you’re at it, put a smile on someone else’s face. 

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