He’s waiting. She’s listening.

A little over six years ago, I started my first blog.

It was called “Unicorns For Socialism” — a name that, to this day, still makes no sense to me or anybody else.

I honestly can’t remember what compelled me to purchase that particular domain name, but I did, and I set up a basic WordPress site, and off I went into the wild, blue blogoverse, ready to share my Various Thoughts and Important Feelings with the world.

On UFS, I wrote about anything and everything: my favorite TV shows, muffin recipes, my thoughts on freelancing and self-promotion, and occasionally, tips on how to communicate more clearly and expressively. It was quite a jumble-tumble of ideas.

Some days, I felt really proud of my writing.

Other weeks, I thought everything I posted was absolute garbage.

I was experimenting, testing, honing, working out my opinions on all kinds of topics.

I was building my voice, but also, building my career and my life.

Many days, blogging felt tedious and depressing because I knew that nobody was reading my work. Well, not “nobody.” My dad would read everything I posted. (Thanks dad!) But aside from my dad, not many people were showing up. Compared to some of my friends (extremely famous bloggers with thousands of adoring fans) I felt very small and insignificant.

I felt like my work didn’t really matter.

I kept plugging along, but inside, that quiet, hungry voice kept wondering,

“Is anybody listening?”

Because what’s the point of all this effort if nobody is listening?

One morning, I woke up and checked my email. I noticed an unfamiliar name in my inbox.

It was an email from a woman I’d never met. She lived thousands of miles away. She was a mother. She had a daughter. There was more.

After introducing herself, this woman explained that her daughter was struggling to make friends at her new school. She told me her daughter loved my blog, particularly one post I had written about how to spark up conversations with strangers. Her daughter had written down my advice in her notebook for inspiration.

This woman also shared with me that her daughter was a survivor of abuse. Unspeakable, nightmarish abuse. Slowly, with the support of her mother and others who love her, this young woman was courageously rebuilding her life.

This woman asked me if I would write to her daughter to say hello and give her some encouragement. She told me, “She really looks up to you and you help her so much.”

At this point my laptop was soaked with tears. I was shaking and sobbing uncontrollably. (I am crying right now, reliving that moment. No matter how many times I tell this story I can’t tell it without crying.)

Reading that email, I realized what a huge fool I had been.

I’d been so concerned about getting famous and getting more readers, more comments, more visible indications of my awesomeness, and all the while, I’d completely forgotten the truth.

The truth, which is:

If you write something and share it — and your words help one human being to experience a better day, or a better life — then your work is a tremendous success.

And also,

You never, ever know how your words might influence someone else’s life.

That’s the great mystery of language. It’s always a mystery. It’s the reason why we must keep writing and sharing our stories, even if it seems like nobody is listening.

Because somebody always is.

And to that “somebody,” you might be a role model, a hero, or an uplifting presence in the center of a very bleak day. You might be all of those things, and more, and you might never even know it.

Trust that your work matters because it always does.

Trust that helping one person is enough because it always is.

Keep going because somebody is always waiting for your next piece of art to be released even if you don’t have any comments or fan mail to prove it.

Imagine a teenage girl, fiercely fighting against the horrors of the world, or a mother, searching for encouragement, or a father, trying to be his best, or a son, seeking inspiration or information or guidance to get through a trying time.

Imagine that one person. Hold that one person in your heart and write for him or her. Let your words be a gift, an expression of care and love and helpfulness and beauty for that one person. Offer a small miracle for that person.

He’s waiting.

She’s listening.