It’s often the smallest things that feel like the biggest deal in the fickle world of my emotional life.

Just as the crush of work has eased a bit, I’ve started using the whiteboard at the entrance to our team’s little cubicle block to present passersby with trivia questions with multiple choice answers. Asking about the history of the English alphabet, the short-lived other name of Uranus, the tone in which most toilets flush… etc. So, anything, really, that struck my fancy from Buzzfeed’s list of fun lil factoids.

It was a bit of a struggle to get people to interact with the board at first — people feel weird about interacting with technically-other-people’s whiteboards, I guess. Or maybe it’s the finality of that dry erase marker — declaring yourself right or wrong, even though literally no one is keeping track of who picks which answer. In any case, because of the board-shyness, for the first couple questions, I’d catch anyone who paused at the question and implore them to PICK an answer right there!

But once it got going, the little conversations that would bubble up around that board made me the happiest little cube-dweller EVER. I’d turn right round and engage people in small talk, conjecturing togetherly about what the last letter added to the English alphabet might’ve been (it was J!!) — and how chatting about fascinating it would be if Uranus had been named LOUISE at one point (it wasn’t; GEORGE was the correct answer there). Just having an excuse to interact with the people who walk, eat, talk, work around me all the time on subjects not related to work was refreshing, even life-giving.

And the beautiful thing is that it costs zero dollars. Takes no more than a few seconds of everyone’s lives. But gives us so much intangible connectivity as coworkers and co-cube dwellers.

I’m notoriously intense as a coworker — that’s what my CFA team pointed out as my greatest strength and greatest weakness. It means I focus first and foremost on work, even at the detriment of the opportunities for connection-making with the people who make it all happen alongside me.

As I walked out of the office at the end of the day, that fateful day of the first trivia question, I realized how springy my step was, how positively whistle-while-you-work I was feeling. All cause of a trivia-l little addition to my ordinary workday. In this way, I remember how it’s in all the little moments that life is actually lived. The big, milestoney markers may be the way you tell the big-brushstroke story of your existence, but it’s all the little crumbs of daily life that make all the difference in your difference-making.

So we trivia on.

to be alone, to be overwhelmed, to experience the relief of crawling out

A snippet that made me pause today, stolen from here.

On the Conan O’Brien show, C.K. explained why: “You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That’s what the phones are taking away,” he said. “Underneath in your life there’s that thing … that forever empty … that knowledge that it’s all for nothing and you’re alone … That’s why we text and drive … because we don’t want to be alone for a second.”

He recalled a moment driving his car when a Bruce Springsteen song came on the radio. It triggered a sudden, unexpected surge of sadness. He instinctively went to pick up his phone and text as many friends as possible. Then he changed his mind, left his phone where it was, and pulled over to the side of the road to weep. He allowed himself for once to be alone with his feelings, to be overwhelmed by them, to experience them with no instant distraction, no digital assist. And then he was able to discover, in a manner now remote from most of us, the relief of crawling out of the hole of misery by himself. For if there is no dark night of the soul anymore that isn’t lit with the flicker of the screen, then there is no morning of hopefulness either. As he said of the distracted modern world we now live in: “You never feel completely sad or completely happy, you just feel … kinda satisfied with your products. And then you die. So that’s why I don’t want to get a phone for my kids.”

Interview Tips for the Shivering Recent Grad (and tangentials)

– if you don’t know what you’re doing and want your college experience to help you figure out your life, go to a small liberal arts one that will put you in intimate settings and personal relationships with people who have bigger ideas than you. the big places have the big opportunities, but if you don’t know what you’re supposed to taking advantage of, they’ll be missed

– if you end up going to a big college anyways, make personal connections wherever you can. take part in things that inspire you, and don’t be afraid to be in awe of awesome people because that’s the first step to learning stuff for yourself. make your big college a smaller experience for you; compose your own communities and safety nets and expansive networks, too

– go abroad.

– don’t stress out so much your final year. you may or may not get acid reflux problems and COME ON you’re only a 20-something

– prepare for phone interviews by researching online. literally the whole wide world of information is at your green little fingertips. take advantage and write things down and come up with answers that you believe in on your best day; that you wish for on your worst.

– interviewing is a practice-able skill. you will feel inadequate and underqualified for almost everything, and this feeling is mostly accurate. unless you have staked out a career or an ultimate dream or that ever-elusive “long-term plans” every recruiter seems to ask about, you will feel too vague and too general and too pointless — too everything but employable, because very often, the Reason why you feel like you’re passionate about sales is Mostly and Honestly because you just need a job. but this, too, shall pass. you is kind you is smart you is important. if you don’t believe in that sentence, get to work at making it true.