Western University student Kierston Drier has been making headlines after responding to the struggles she found written across her school’s bathroom stalls.
Drier taped a letter to the stall that quickly spread far beyond the four walls, across social media sites and into The Globe and Mail.
Drier decided to write back when she saw the “huge volume of responses” to the question, “What was the worst day of your life?” scrawled on the bathroom door. There were dark answers of rape, eating disorders and loss.
“Somewhere in this school, this building, this bathroom, someone with an eating disorder is trapped,” she thought. “Someone who was raped feels scared and alone, someone whose father is battling alcoholism feels helpless. I wish I could do something.”
And so she started to write back. Drier addressed every daunting issue specifically, and ended the letter with:
“You are worthy, you are strong, you are brave, you are loved, somebody cares”.
Another student took to Drier’s words, deciding to post a picture of the letter on Reddit, Facebook and Imgur (http://imgur.com/UECz9).
“After that it took off,” Drier said. “It had something like over 800,000 views on Imgur and made news in the UK. I even read somewhere about a professor in the States with a PhD in graffiti art who spoke about it.”
But only recently did Drier come forward as the author.
Q. Even after your school newspaper, The Western Gazette, wrote an article about your “anonymous” letter you kept quiet. What made you decide to come forward?
A. Honestly I was pretty overwhelmed and scared at the idea that people might want to know who wrote it. I also felt like the magic would be lost if I came out. So at first I responded to some people who showed interest by saying “I want to remain anonymous” or ” I don’t know who wrote that. Cool though”. After a little over a week I realized, I could be outed by anyone– maybe if I stepped out, I could spread the positive message.
[But] the people who deserve credit are all the amazing people at my school who took the time to read it, and thought it was valuable enough to post it up on Reddit and Facebook. They are the ones who spread the message of love farther than I ever thought it could go!
Q. What was your motivation behind putting the quotes, and your answers, viral?
A. I don’t remember thinking anything when I posted the note, except this kind of warm and fuzzy notion that I filled my “good deed quota” for the day. I fully figured it would get taken down within an hour or two by the janitor. I had no idea it went viral until over a week after— and by that point, it honestly felt like it took on a life of its own.
I never wanted this to be about me— it’s about the people who are writing on the bathroom wall– this is a heartwarming story about a much bigger issue– there are people who need support out there, there are people who need to know they are being heard.
Q. You told the Globe and Mail: “People came forward with stories of their own struggles after reading it…and others responded, in turn, with words of encouragement: ‘We don’t know you,’ they wrote, ‘but we are rooting for you’.” What was your reaction to the feedback?
A. It was all heartwarming. And stunning.
I was very surprised to see a larger number of people beginning to post things about their own struggles, and the response was overwhelming. People came out from all over Western to comment on their posts, to support them, encourage them. They were all doing the same thing I was doing– the only difference is their bathroom stall walls were virtual, and mine were metal.
Q. Do you relate to these girls?
A. I can’t possibly put a monopoly on someone else’s suffering. I can’t say I “know how they feel”. Everyone’s pain is different. I can say that I have been in an abusive relationship- more than once. I’ve been bullied in school by students and teachers, I’ve dealt with issues around eating disorders, seen people I love abuse drugs and alcohol, and I was born with a fairly severe learning disability, which has given me issues all through my academic career.
Q. If you could say something to all the girls struggling out there, what would it be?
A. I wrote a poem once, “From the point of view of God talking to man”; the last lines are, “I never gave you more than I knew your could handle. I love you. I love you. I love you. I did not make it easy. But I made no mistakes. ”