"You know what gets me? The fact that a lot of people don't take the time to say thank you anymore, like really thank someone without a scripted reason behind it," I said to my best friend, four months ago, as our phones bridged a distance between my location in Connecticut and hers in Virginia. "What has happened to the handwritten thank-you note? People can just text a thank you or send an email, but there is nothing better than receiving a handwritten note, there is nothing better than a "thank you for being in my life."
This very dialogue is the very reason why I woke up today ready to thank 100 people.
Since a conversation between my best friend and I about how the handwritten thank-you note is seriously underrated, I have traded in my free time for a pen and piece of paper. I have been writing dozens and dozens of thank-you notes, choosing to feel every sweep of the pen and every dotting of the "i"s. I write them anywhere and everywhere: in a booth at the on-campus restaurant, outside of Starbucks, while waiting to go places or before meetings. I am beginning to delight in the puzzled faces of my peers when they see me sitting at a table scribbling away furiously.
"What are you doing Hannah?"
"Writing thank-you notes."
Not your typical lunchtime activity but when I stop to think about it, I cannot think of a better activity to pursue. So I just smile and continue to write.
The handwritten thank-you note has become a best friend to me in the last few months and the centerpiece to a project that I am beginning. Ten Thousand Thank-You Notes is my effort to thank those who have played an intricate part in my last four years as a college undergraduate. 100 people will be thanked today in the form of a handwritten thank-you note, each one unique and different in its own way. This is simply because each person I have encountered has impacted me in a remarkable manner that no one could ever replace. A lot of these people are not expecting to hear from me today, plenty of them have not heard from me in a very long while. But I have scolded the awkwardness that comes from thanking someone "just because" because I finally realize I have every reason to thank these people. Right Here. Right Now.Not when I finally walk across the stage and receive my diploma but at this very moment where their impact is gold to me.
The premise of the project is simple: Receive a thank-you note, pass a thank-you note. My hope is that those who receive a note will pass one or several on to others, and the project will continue....
But it is not just me, I am not the only one in this world who is allowed to write thank-you notes. We all have people that we should thank, people who we forget about in the busyness of everyday life. People who deserve a thank-you note every single day. They are the ones who have shaped us, challenged us and saw potential in us. They are the ones who are there any day that we need them. They are the ones who we celebrate life with; happy and sad moments. So why do we forget to express our gratitude? Or why do we designate it to a time and place: after a party or after receiving a gift. We need to tell the world to be quiet when it tries to tell us we are way to busy to stop and thank people because these are the people who give our world color and give our days meaning.
And of course I know the truth, we could very well continue on and not thank these people. We could thank them in our hearts and that may very well be enough. But I will dare to say that silent gratitude gets us no where in this world that needs more thank yous.
This is a call to all of you reading to get involved as well. Pick up the project yourself: Write out thank-you notes to those who deserve to hear it more than just at Christmas or Birthdays, send those thank-you notes out and urge them to pass along the project as well.
Oh there are days when I think I am too busy, too tied up to acknowledge anyone. But then I stop. I look around at my life, at the radiance of this person who I have come and I see it very clearly: I am no one without the noble individuals who have brought me to this point. And to me, that is a better reason than any to thank them today.
"Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel."
Please get involved in Ten Thousand Thank-You Notes! I would love to hear from you about sending thank-you notes, receiving them or just chatting in general. Shoot me an email over at HannahKaty@live.com.