Give Someone a Buckeye Today
How a Walgreens cashier and an Ohioan taught me how to make someone's day.
Have you ever had a really terrible day? One of those where maybe not one single thing is terrible, but a lot of small things add up to a lousy 24 hours? A few years ago, one of my best friends had one such very bad day. It seemed like nothing was going right, until she ran into an unexpectedly kind Walgreens cashier. He could see she wasn’t doing so well and shared some kind words, and turned her day around entirely. It was a small thing, just a few words, but it mattered.
I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience. Life just doesn’t seem to be on your side one day, and all of a sudden, someone notices, and it makes all the difference. Being on the receiving end of another’s thoughtfulness brightens our day. But, sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives that we forget we have the chance to be a bright spot in someone else’s life. Five years ago, I met someone who remembered to be that bright spot, just like my friend’s Walgreens cashier.
It was in the heat and humidity of July in Washington, D.C. when I met Aaron, a fellow state FFA officer at a national conference for state officers. It was also at a point in my life where I felt deeply insecure about whether or not I belonged in the role, let alone if I was any good at it. (I realized, later, just about every other officer feels that way at some point or another—don’t we all?) Throughout the week, between sessions and legislative visits and networking dinners, Aaron and I became friends, learning about each other’s home states and reasons for running for office and excitement for the remainder of our year of service. On the last day, as we all made our rounds saying goodbye to our newfound friends, Aaron reached into his pocket and pulled out a buckeye seed. Placing it in my hand, he said these words: “Miriam, you were meant to be in this role. You will serve well this year.”
Turns out, officers from Ohio had a tradition of sharing buckeyes with people they developed a connection with. By sharing these buckeyes, they were sharing something much deeper than that: they shared confidence and kindness with every buckeye. Think about the last time someone reminded you of your ability and potential when you didn’t believe in those things yourself. It sticks with us, doesn’t it?
Five years later, I still have the buckeye. I also still have the reminder of how powerful words can be, especially when they’re words from someone who cares enough to pay attention to the good we’re doing and cares enough to tell us they see it. Here’s the deal: thinking a nice thought about someone doesn’t do much good if we don’t do something about it. That’s why I propose we live by Aaron’s principle: hand out buckeyes like they grow on trees. (Because they do. And if we develop a habit, our kind words will come just as easily).
It doesn’t have to be complicated to give someone a buckeye. Here are some practical ideas for sharing kind words in your daily life:
Send a quick text to a friend the night before a stressful interview, game, or other significant endeavor they care about. Let them know their value independent of the outcome of that endeavor.
Write a handwritten note to a mentor to thank them for investing in you.
Send a text to a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile just to remind them you care about what they’re up to.
Use your waiter or waitress’s name when you go out to eat. Thank them by name.
Take a picture of a pretty sunset and send it to your mom (or anyone else in your life who loves pretty sunsets—my mom happens to be the biggest nature fan I know).
In our own pursuit of a purpose-driven, meaningful life, let’s not forget those around us in pursuit of the same. It’s all too easy to think our words won’t mean that much, or it will be weird to reach out to someone we haven’t talked to in awhile, or to talk to a stranger, but trust me: kind words matter to people. They matter a lot more than we think. They matter so much, in fact, that I still have that buckeye from five years ago; not because the buckeye itself mattered, but because the words did. If you ever start to wonder if it’s worth going out on a limb and saying something, just remember the last time someone gave YOU a buckeye. Share that feeling. Give one to someone today, and you never know who will remember it five years later.
Journal Prompt of the Week
Write about the last time someone gave you a figurative buckeye. Why did it mean so much to you?
Share with the Community
What other examples do you have of ways to give someone a buckeye? Share a story with us about the last time you brightened someone’s day!