Gusts of wind shook the tree outside of the cafeteria aggressively, as the sharp, cold winter air walloped against the dark, ambiguous clothes that ‘Me’ was wearing on the night she started distributing the first batch of love letters. She tied twenty letters to the tree outside the cafeteria late at night on Dec. 8. On the next day, the letters were still there. Disappointed, she figured students would need some sort of incentive to go to that tree, understanding that the letters were for them, and pick them up, so she posted a note on one of the TCC’s glass doors, saying that the letters were free for the taking.
By the time she returned to the tree later that day, all the letters were gone.
All the letters had a hashtag written on them — #PepperdineLoveLetters. The first reaction was an instragram post; a student who had picked up one of the letters on the tree took a picture of the message inside the letter and posted it online. In the comments, the student posted the hashtag from the letter along with a long list of other hashtags, including “#cheeredmeup,” “#idontgetit,” and “#thanks.” In the comments, the student, under the Instagram username ‘reemasaurus’ wrote: “This is the one I found on campus! It was wonderful! Right before my last 2 finals, too.”
The writer goes by “Me,” the pronoun signed at the end of each letter and the pseudonym she chose to use in public in order to protect her identity from being discovered.
Me’s inspiration was a TED Conference video speaker, Hannah Brencher, a young resident of New York who started the foundation, “More Love Letters,” now a global initiative that invites people to leave love letters to strangers or those in need of motivation, regardless of where they are or to whom they are writing these love letters. After watching this video around finals week last semester, Me decided to start the ‘Love Letters’ movement here on campus.
She has continued to leave love letters around campus since December and more students have started to share the letters they’ve found. Each letter comes with the #PepperdineLoveLetters hashtag and Instagram username, @PepperdineLoveLetters, along with the hyperlink to Brencher’s ‘More Love Letters’ foundation on each of the letters. Just recently, the initiative got its own Twitter account, “It currently has two followers, one of whom is Hannah Brencher herself,” Me said in an email interview.
The Instagram account currently has 15 followers, and the number of Instagram posts tagged with the hashtag is five.
This hasn’t discouraged Me from continuing to spread the initiative at Pepperdine. “Even if a reader may not take a found letter seriously because it could have theoretically been read by anyone, it doesn’t mean the letter isn’t true!” Me said, “If I did not think my readers were beautiful, valuable, special, or amazing, would I spend time writing to them?”
Another student posted her testimony on Twitter a few months later on Feb. 20; the user, @CaroPitts, tweeted a picture of the letter she found and, next to the hashtag, wrote “You will always have a chance to find the goodness in every single day, thanks.”
Though the number of testimonies is still small, Me said the impact that each of these individual posts had on her life and in knowing she was able to make somebody smile is all the motivation she needs to continue her initiative and work harder to write more and more letters each week.
“I plan to grow Pepperdine Love Letters by inviting people to send me letter requests,” Me said, taking the inspiration from Hannah Brencher’s now global, love letter foundation. Anybody and everybody can become part of the movement — you can get more information about Pepperdine Love Letters by simply looking up the hashtag or instagram handle (#PepperdineLoveLetters and @PepperdineLoveLetters). You can even email the Gmail account, (PepperdineLoveLetters@gmail.com), to make special letter requests for yourself or your friends.
One of the most recent student feedback posts on the letters was posted on March 24 this year by an anonymous source on the independent Facebook page that some Pepperdine students often use called “Pepperdine Confessions.” Although the user did not include a picture of the letter or its hashtag, their testimony is remarkably touching. The post read: “Whoever is leaving the random love letters places, you’re leaving more of a mark than you think. I’m struggling with Bullimia and I went into the bathroom to throw up and I found the letter and talked myself out of it. You are an amazing person. Thank you.” The post got 67 likes in the first hour after being posted.
Love is in the air at Pepperdine, and we are all a part of this growing movement — we all have the power to join it and start writing love letters ourselves to brighten someone’s day too.
So look around more carefully the next time you find yourself walking around campus — you might just find a letter from a stranger that wants to make you smile and feel amazing, despite whatever might be stressing you out in your life right now.
Follow Maria Prada on Twitter: @chuzac