I’ve always thought Facebook birthday posts were a waste of time and I would never send them. They don’t mean, “I love you,” or, “I hope you’re having a great birthday.” What they really mean is, “I am a slave to social media. A message popped up and told me to say this so I did.”
Except when it’s my birthday.
When it’s my birthday, I’m convinced that every one of those people really cares about me and takes the time to send me good wishes because we’re such great friends. This is a standard of the doubling variety, I know.
On the one hand, I feel like it’s a time-wasting show of my crowd followership to post messages on other people’s walls for their birthdays. On the other, I would be sad if no one took the time to do it for me.
So, last week on my birthday when my Facebook wall lit up with kind wishes, love, and sunshine, I felt loved and excited and I made a resolution to join the crowd, to say a few words of love on my friends’ birthdays. I’ve done it three times now and it took almost no effort. I hope it made a difference.
I bet it did. Because each drop is needed to create a river of support.
I sort of hate going along with a crowd. I’m rarely a contributor to group gifts. I’m not a groupie of almost anything. If I feel like a ton of people are going to an event, I’m happy to hang back, thinking “They don’t need me when they’ve got so many other supporters.”
But, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the cumulative nature of support. Although we often hear stories about one person reaching out and making a difference, we just as often hear someone say, “The outpouring of love and support was tremendous,” or, “Seeing so many people come together to help made me feel so special.”
I’ve felt this KEENLY as I’ve been holding book events for Drops of Awesome. Some events are packed with people and others have just a few. Now, at the events with just a few people, I am SO grateful for the individual people because without them, I’d just be a journaling exhibitionist talking to myself. But at the events where supporters pack in and line up to get their books signed, I have the absolute time of my life. There’s something about looking out on a large group of friends and supporters that is simply magic.
I was thinking about each of the people that came to one such event and how each of them had to make a huge effort to come, sometimes long distances, to see me. It’s possible that each one of them thought, “She won’t notice if I don’t come. I don’t really NEED her to deface my book. Maybe I should just stay home and get my kids in bed.” But somehow they pulled it together and they showed up. And all night long I met or reconnected with an unending stream of like-minded people who created an unforgettable experience for me.
For one night, I was a rock star author.
One person couldn’t have made that dream come true. It had to be many. But many can only exist if a whole lot of one persons make a big effort and work together.
So the next time you think that your one drop in the ocean or one stitch in the stocking cap doesn’t matter, think again.
Maybe you will be the only one to show up, which is special in its own way, or maybe you will be just one of many, one in a crowd, and your one-in-the-crowd-ish-ness will make a magnificent experience for someone who needs it.
“We had such a great turnout for my daughter’s wedding reception.”
“Can you believe how many people came to the PTA Costume Ball we organized?”
“I was so touched by all the friends who reached out when my son went into the hospital.”
Together we can make these realities happen for someone else. We can’t do it all and we have to prioritize, but sometimes I think I’m so careful about guarding my time that I don’t make the small efforts to show up and show support.