I was told that I would learn just as much after graduating as I had during all of my years in school, and although I had doubted this possibility, I am starting to understand the truth.

I may no longer calculate the measures of angles, memorize the organs in the human body, write eight-page research papers, read classical novels, or study for final exams. Nor do I consume the new information through 500-page textbooks. Instead, I learn from co-workers, from friends, from clients. I learn from the people and experiences around me.

I have learned valuable character traits catered to my career. I have learned of the realities in this life. More notably, I have learned lessons unwritten in any textbook.

And because I am continuing to learn, I am also motivated to continue sharing my thoughts with you.

One day last week I was sitting in a tiny, blue chair next to a student’s desk. As this student worked on academics, I read the instructions and assisted with any questions that arose. I tried to make the lesson appealing while also encouraging the child’s independence. In the midst of reading comprehension and a story about a young girl who needed glasses, I learned one of life’s most valuable lessons.

As the child wrote out a response to the second question on the worksheet, there was a pause. The student looked straight into my eyes and said, “Ms. Oswald, I really appreciate you. I appreciate you because you are nice to me. And you appreciate me because I am nice to you.”

I am sure my face lit up. There is no doubt my eyes sparkled, and I bet my cheeks got a little rosy too. This was the most unexpected statement, yet it meant the world to me.

I felt appreciated. I was reminded of my worth. I regained motivation to make it through some hard days for the little moments like this.

I am appreciated. And boy, does that feel like the best statement in the world.

You see, I always had a hope that the students I work with appreciate my presence each day, yet I was lacking the verbal affirmation. It is inexplicable what putting something into words can do for someone.

I learned that appreciation is always important, but it is life-changing when it is verbally expressed. There are so many people whom I appreciate, yet I fail to tell them. How are they to know how thankful I am for their presence and contribution to my life if I don’t say the very words?

I learned the power of three words, and I reflected on appreciation as a whole. I encourage you to verbally state your appreciation to someone today. It may take two seconds, but it will most likely change that person’s whole day–and maybe even his or her perspective too.

I appreciate my family. I appreciate my friends, my co-workers, my readers. I appreciate the student who taught me this lesson. And yes, I appreciate you. 

Doesn’t it feel so good?