As one of my first forays into the world of brave encounters, I wanted to find people who inspire me and write them a message letting them know, "Hey, I think you're great." The standard relative/friend/colleague list didn't make the cut, and I decided to go to people whom I had not seen or spoken to in a number of years to remind them that a) I exist (haha. but seriously.) and that b) I still consider them to be influential in my life.
This list included:
A high school English teacher.
A childhood best friend.
And a 6th grade teacher.
I searched social media, past school websites, and my first Hotmail account for ways that I could contact these individuals--putting my e-stalking talent to real use right there. And I started each email with a very formal salutation, since I'm basically as awkward as I was at 17 and can't imagine calling a teacher by their first name. #adulting
After crossing that "what would I say if I saw this person in the grocery store?" hurdle, the remainder of the message was surprisingly easy to compose. I'm lucky to have had extremely influential teachers, and--maybe indicative of my kiss-up status as a child--I found it both inspiring and cathartic to remember the amazing lessons, books, and experiences I had so many years ago.
Nostalgia is one of my favorite drugs.
With slight trepidation and a few seconds hovering over the "send" button, I felt that rush of bravery. Sending something into an unknowable void is quite terrifying,
and--like this blog here--I had no clue if these recipients would read, remember, roll their eyes, or have any range of emotions. That wasn't the point, though. I did this for the sake of being brave, and any positive or negative reactions were out of my control.
But I did get responses:
I am so glad you emailed. It is great to hear from you!
You will never know how much your letter means to me.
Those two lines alone make every ounce of bravery worth it.
Go do it. Tell someone why you love them. Remind an individual from your past that you still feel their influence in your life. I hope it becomes as addictive and as amazing to you as it has been for me.