Little actions, large impacts

By Ritika Khanal

It feels like just yesterday when I walked into the doors of MTHS for the first time, wondering how long it was going to take before I was swallowed whole by a school so big and filled with so many unknown people and paths. Yet, here we are, November of 2021, and somehow, I’ve managed to reach my last year of high school.

I can’t help but think about the fact that in a few short months, we’ll all be going our separate ways. For many, the haunting music of “test tomorrow” won’t entirely dissipate, but we will never again get to experience classes with the people we’ve gotten so used to seeing every single day.

That is an incredibly heartbreaking thought, and one that probably won’t entirely set in until everything officially winds down later in the year. However, as I reflect on what has made my last four years at MTHS special, both in-person and online, I’ve realized that it’s the community of people I’ve found and the little moments that we’ve shared.

Inclusion, or the lack thereof, has always been at the center of my world. As a result, I’ve come to understand and value the little things people can do that make an entire world of difference.

For example, I’ve never fully been able to get on board with social media. I know, I know. I’m a disgusting disgrace of a human being in the eyes of my generation.

However, since social media, such as Instagram and TikTok, mainly revolve around visual content, and considering my vision is worse than that of a bat’s, that doesn’t tend to work out too well for me.

Since so much of our culture today is housed on social media though, I’ve had to at least put myself on all the platforms just so I could somewhat keep up with my peers.

One day, I was doing my regular rounds of disinterested scrolling through Instagram, my screen reader software reading “image may contain person” for one post after another. Suddenly, I was met with a pleasant surprise.

It was a post from a friend with a caption implying that her swim team had become the district champions. According to my screen reader, there were seven pictures to go along with the caption. Fully expecting to be told that each picture may contain a person, I prepared to keep scrolling to another post. However, my cursor landed on one of her pictures, and I was met with a surprise.

“Seniors getting gifts,” my robotic friend shouted out in a monotone voice.

Surprised, I scrolled through all seven of her pictures, and sure enough, each one had a little description. At that moment, I was filled with so much gratitude because I understood exactly what she had done.

A few months before this post was taken, I’d had a conversation with her about the alternate text option on social media platforms. Alternate text, also known as alt-text, provides a space for the user to provide a description of the visual content they are posting so that a visually impaired person knows what is in the picture. The description is only visible to those using screen reader software, and instead of having artificial intelligence try to describe the picture, the reader will read the description provided.

The descriptions in her post were simple: things like “team pic” and “me and Rebecca.” However, in my mind, they made all the difference. For the first time, I had access to the post in the same way everyone else did. Also, that post was especially meaningful because I had talked to her about alt-text only once, and based on that conversation, she went out of her way to do something she knew would probably benefit only one person.

What my friend did with that post represents the kind of evolution I hope for in our society. I hope that one day, people will take the time to do the little things not because they have to, but because it has the potential to help someone else and make their day brighter.

I’ve tried to keep this idea in mind through the years, making it my mission to intentionally observe, not in the creepy “I’m watching you” kind of way, but rather, investing time into each relationship and coming to genuinely know each person I interact with to understand how to include them.

In this process, I’ve realized how much the little things we say and do can make a difference. Something as seemingly insignificant as a quick check-in with a friend when it seems like they’re having a bad day can have a significant impact. Sometimes, we just need someone to listen, and being there for someone can be the little moment that makes all the difference. If I’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that it really doesn’t take much to make the world a brighter and more inclusive place.

By taking the time to invest into the little things, we can form strong bonds with people that surpass time and distance.

When I think about my last four years at MTHS, the thing I am most grateful for is the connections I’ve been able to make with people. Even when a day isn’t going quite right, I’ve always been able to count on those around me to make me smile over something. If we all make it our mission to give that back to our communities, I think we’ll find that all of our days will become brighter.

While the prospect of leaving MTHS in June is a terrifying thought, I know that my fondest memories will always be the little moments that I’ve been lucky enough to find with those around me. The beautiful thing is, we’ll always have an opportunity to make those memories with those around us. So, what little thing will you do to make a moment special?