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I will leave it up to you to decide whether or not this particular room contained only myself and the teacher who spoke these particularly warming words to me, indeed, at a moment I was desperate for any shadow of confidence in preparation for both exams and the rest of my life!

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These words have haunted me for perhaps too long now, but are only painful when I think of the 18 year old me who did not make the nicest of acquaintances nor meet with the most fortunate of situations.  Yet, I have chosen these words because they annihilated all my denials, for indeed I wasn’t the person who I wanted to be, or felt like I was.

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It was my first month at university and I was still very much a tiny fish in a rather large, foreign and sticky pool. Soon my homesickness was to spread into actual sickness and never had I felt so alone. Yet, a recently made friend offered to make me soup and it remains as one of the kindest gestures anyone has done for me, at a time when I didn’t think I had anyone  close enough to even sneeze on.

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It was nighttime in York when a stranger walked passed me and declared me ‘stunning’. Although I don’t doubt the darkness compromised his judgement, it wasn’t something I had ever been told quite so earnestly and it made me happy enough to remember it still.

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My class had just finished when the teacher told me to stay behind. She sat in the chair opposite me and whilst I was surveying all the possible reasons I might be in due of a telling off she began what I remember as the words above.I can only think she could tell that I was quite unhappy and though she was under no obligation, she took her time to tell me some exquisite words of encouragement and simultaneously allowed me to believe I wasn’t alone.

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The primary school I went to, when I was 8 years old,  used ‘privilege cards’ as a way of awarding good behaviour. If a child did something nice they would receive a signature on their card and depending on how many signatures you had at the end of the term you could watch a film. One particular term I had all but one signature required for this exclusive prize and my teacher at the time found out, most likely by my mother who also worked at the school and knew of my shortcomings and desperation to join the other children in the hall. My teacher took me out of class one morning and told me to open the door for him. I was quite perplexed at this peculiar request but did so, nonetheless. It was to my happy surprise that opening this door for the teacher, despite how he had no intention of leaving the building, enabled me to receive my crucial signature! Another beautifully sweet gesture that still makes me smile.

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These words made me realise that it’s okay not to enjoy the best experiences of your life. It was during my trek in Iceland, each day the porridge become more repulsive that the last and I’m quite sure I’d never been so entirely exhausted. The early mornings and long days were painful and I found myself hating more of it than I thought I should. That was until a fellow trekker said these words. I wasn’t alone and it is mostly certainly an accurate statement, if ever there was one!

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