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7.8 billion people in the world, and you’re the one reading this. 7.8 billion variables and I’m supposed to address you. What on earth can I say, to someone I’ve never met, someone I shouldn’t know?

Well, .000000000128, I know you better than you think.

I know that there’s something you hate about yourself, probably about your body. I don’t know what, but something’s wrong with it. It’s too short, too tall, too fat, too thin, wrong hair, wrong shape, wrong color, wrong nose, large mouth, small eyes, pimply, freckly…

Or maybe you feel the problem in your soul. You act weak, selfish, greedy, arrogant, or stupid and think you are that thing. It has creeped around and in you and defined you, and you've started to hate your own mind and heart.

I know that you’ll believe me, a stranger, when I say that. If I say you’re ugly, inside and out, just another one in 7.8 billion. Even if you tell yourself that words will never hurt you, they’ll sink down into your soul and join the thousand other comments you can’t get rid of, the ones that come back and hit you again when you’re weak. They always do.

I know you won’t trust me, not really, if I contradict them. If I say you’re perfect. If I say you’re utterly unique and irreplaceable and that someone loves everything about you and that you’ve got so much to give to the world. 

But I mean it. You are. You were born to be a hero.

You won’t accept it—because I don’t know you, you’ll say. From any number of miles away, I can tell you your faults, and you’ll believe me. No matter how close I am, you’ll never really accept my compliments. I know that.

But, remember, I do know a lot about you.

I know there’s someone you hate and would never admit you want to forgive. I know that somehow you’re hurting. I know that every once in a while you stop and wonder why you’re so broken. You’ve questioned if a person really likes you or if they think you’re pitiful. You’ve wished you could go back and say sorry. You’ve hoped no one saw that. You’ve questioned whether they’ll ever write you back.

I know that later today, you’ll think about reading this. You’ll think about me, just like I’m thinking about you right now.

On one hand, you might wonder what sort of .000000000128 would write something like this. But you won’t wonder how I knew you, because you know me. You know there’s something I hate about myself. You know I’m broken and hurting too. 

You know that you could tell me these things and I’d believe you. You know if you told me I was beautiful and perfect, I wouldn’t.

Yet, I do mean it, and maybe… just maybe… you’d mean it too. Funny how that works.

What else? Well, I know that you can read, because you’re reading this. I know you’re persistent (or maybe just bored), because you’re still reading this, even though there’s no hint of a story in it.

But guess what else I know.

I know that you are the story.

What if we trusted each other? What if you knew, you really knew, that you are good, that you are not defined by what and how you feel? What if you realized that, in a heartbeat, you could leave behind the nastiness that clings to you but that all the good you do lasts until eternity? What if you didn’t feel so broken anymore? 

What if that changed your story?

Because someday, you’ll be in a hurry and behind someone taking it really slow. And you’ll open your mouth and meet their eyes… and wonder how they’re hurting and if they feel broken too. So your comment will become a smile. Just maybe, they'll smile back.

And another time, you’ll pass by a woman who looks really lovely. And for once, you’ll actually tell her so and try to convince her that you really mean it so that she’ll really believe it. Maybe she will.

Someone else will compliment you, and for the first time, you’ll believe they meant it because, if you can be sincere, why not the rest of the world? You won’t wait for their message, because you wrote them first, and it’s 2 a.m., and you’ve been talking now for hours. They’ll tell you they love you, and you might just believe you’re loveable. You’ll say, “’til death do us part,” and mean it. And trust them when they say it back.

You’ll run into that person, that one… and wonder what their story looks like and what role you want to play in it. It’ll take everything you’ve got, but you’ll forgive them, for the first time, letting that stone roll away. And you’ll find you’re able to love again.

Maybe you’ll realize that that’s what makes a hero—not superpowers, not getting the girl, not beating up the bad guy worse than he beats up you, but the superhuman ability to remain courageous and joyful in the face of difficulty and to do the right thing even when it’s hard.

Maybe those difficulties will stop stopping you. Maybe you’ll believe in your dreams again, climb a mountain, or take a chance. Maybe you’ll save a life, because you know life is worth living. Maybe that life will be your own.

Or maybe you’ll keep working at that same job, the same one you’ve felt trapped in for years, that no-good, dead-end, how-did-I-come-to-this job. But one day you’ll realize that the hardest thing, the right thing, is to keep being kind in the midst of your own unhappiness. Or maybe you'll keep struggling with the same old thing... and finally admit you need someone's help. Even if that doesn’t change the world yet, it’ll change you, and that’s a start.

Maybe if you realized that how much you’re worth, you’d have the courage to give yourself away. Because saving the world begins with the belief it’s worth the effort and that belief begins with you.

I know, right now, this is just a story. But I wonder…

What would happen to you… and to the other .999999999872… if it started coming true?

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52 comments

Ethy Starling
16:31 Jul 04, 2020

What an inspirational story! I need lessons about such good hooks. Yours drew me right in and I think the best part of it is how relatable it is. I actually felt parts of the story and by the end if it I could come over with a treat and I know that we would become fast friends. Thanks for sharing that. It was lovely and truly captivating. Have a nice day!

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Sarah Kaderbek
16:44 Jul 04, 2020

Thank you so much, Ethy! I hope you have a great day too! :D

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Laura Clark
13:20 Jul 01, 2020

Hiya! I apologise in advance that the quality of this feedback is not going to be a patch on the feedback you left me but I will try my best to be helpful! I enjoyed this as a story of hope and self-improvement. It has some beautiful moments (maybe you’ll save a life... maybe it will be your own and smiling at the person being slow were two that stood out to me). One easy fix - creeped should be crept in the fourth paragraph. The main thing I felt about this piece was that it was contradictory. In the first paragraph you set up t...

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Sarah Kaderbek
17:47 Jul 02, 2020

Sorry it took me a little while to respond, but thank you so much for the feedback! I see exactly what you’re saying, though I still can’t think of a good way of addressing it. That’s the problem with choosing a paradox as your theme! I really wanted to capture and address the lie that we are alone in our struggles and faults. So many people feel isolated in their flaws but part of a mass as regards their virtues and talents. So, I tried to show how these struggles we think define and isolate us are actually universal, how the best ...

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Margaret Gaffney
20:40 Jul 08, 2020

Another example of your brilliance, my dear friend.

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Sarah Kaderbek
21:10 Jul 08, 2020

Can't compete with you, dear! :)

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Lizzy Hansen
19:55 Jul 08, 2020

“But one day you’ll realize that the hardest thing, the right thing, is to keep being kind in the midst of your own unhappiness.“ Sarah, I know I’m just a stranger and I could be all the way across the world from you but this is beautiful. I am so thankful for your gift. You have a talent to touch the soul and steal my words right from my lips. You’re clearly gonna do great things. Thank you for leaving me speechless <3 I hope you believe this comment because you are clever and wonderful ♥️♥️ I hope that I can reach people like you do so...

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Sarah Kaderbek
02:17 Jul 09, 2020

Thank you, Lizzy! That means so much to hear :)

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Rhondalise Mitza
13:43 Jul 08, 2020

Yes, Great JOB! I love this story and the voice it had. Very well done, I think you lifted a lot of hearts.

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Sarah Kaderbek
17:24 Jul 08, 2020

Thank you so much, Rhondalise! I hope so!

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Jessie Nice
15:35 Jul 07, 2020

A life lesson and a poetic story all in one. Thoroughly enjoyed, Sarah!

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Sarah Kaderbek
02:18 Jul 09, 2020

Thank you, Jessie! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

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Zelda Lacombe
22:02 Jul 06, 2020

i love the message with this one :) i don't know who needs to read this but i hope they take it to heart if they do!

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Sarah Kaderbek
01:45 Jul 07, 2020

Thank you, Zelda! So do I!

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20:37 Jul 06, 2020

This was amazing. I had chills almost throughout the entire story, even though there's no hint of a story in it ;) I love the style in which this was written and how you took the prompt in a different, creative and amazing direction. Keep writing! If you have time and don't mind, I would really appreciate your feedback on my first story here.

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Reena B.
18:08 Jul 04, 2020

This was so inspiring and creative. I love the direction in which you took the prompt. You’re an amazing writer!

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Sarah Kaderbek
19:18 Jul 04, 2020

Thank you, Reena! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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Courtney Stuart
14:22 Jul 04, 2020

this story was truly inspiring, and this was such a unique take on the prompt! i loved the overall message - i think just about anyone can relate to it - and how you directly address the reader. your writing also flows very easily, which i think makes all the difference, especially for a story like this! excellent job! :D

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Sarah Kaderbek
16:45 Jul 04, 2020

Thank you so much; that’s so nice of you to say!

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Doubra Akika
14:12 Jul 04, 2020

This is really beautiful

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Sarah Kaderbek
16:45 Jul 04, 2020

Thank you, Doubra!

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Hallie Blatz
13:15 Jul 04, 2020

This was so good! Not a story, but I think sometimes we need that anyways. I think this was a lot more meaningful than a story could have been. I personally don’t hate myself, but if I had grown up a bit differently or wasn’t a Christian I know I would. Anyways, I just wanted to say thanks for writing this.

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Sarah Kaderbek
16:45 Jul 04, 2020

Thanks for reading, Hallie!

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Anna Chidiac
13:01 Jul 04, 2020

Beautiful and inspiring. :)

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Sarah Kaderbek
13:09 Jul 04, 2020

Thank you, Anna! :)

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Prakhar Mishra
12:31 Jul 04, 2020

That was really, really good! Very unexpected and I loved it! I genuinely look forward to reading more of your work!

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Sarah Kaderbek
13:09 Jul 04, 2020

Thank you so much, Prakhar! That's so nice of you to say!

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Prakhar Mishra
09:15 Jul 05, 2020

Hey, I know it's weird to ask, but can you check out my story? This is my first time participating in these contests, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

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A. y. R
12:26 Jul 04, 2020

Wow, this is rather inspirational if anything! And it was a really interesting perspective using the number to quantify the reader, really creates a good amount of existential dread!

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Sarah Kaderbek
13:08 Jul 04, 2020

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, and thank you for reading!! :)

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Elle Holmes
11:21 Jul 04, 2020

Wow... amazing. That’s all I can say. Well done, you are amazing.

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Sarah Kaderbek
12:08 Jul 04, 2020

Aww, thank you, Elle! That’s so kind of you to say! :)

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Joseph Varkis
10:07 Jul 04, 2020

Thanks. I needed that. Really Amazing. And one more thing... you have 0.0017642626 chance of winning this. :)

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Sarah Kaderbek
12:03 Jul 04, 2020

I am so glad! Thank you for the kind words, Amith! :)

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Lucy Frejkova
08:36 Jul 04, 2020

Wow that was incredible! I could relate to it so much as someone who is always doubting about myself, it felt like reading a part of my life that I’ve always ignored. You have such a way with words and the ability of making me read the story without getting bored or losing interest in it. Well done!

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Sarah Kaderbek
12:05 Jul 04, 2020

That’s so kind for you to say, Lucy; thank you!

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Sayani Sarkar
08:11 Jul 04, 2020

It's a beautiful and very uplifting story. Usage of the fraction concept does alot more to the story than one might imagine.

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Sarah Kaderbek
12:06 Jul 04, 2020

Thank you so much, Sayani! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

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Ranya Navarez
00:34 Jun 27, 2020

WOW!!! That was just-WOW! I literally have no other words. That was amazing!

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Sarah Kaderbek
01:08 Jun 27, 2020

Aw, thank you so much! I was SO nervous about posting this. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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Ranya Navarez
01:18 Jun 27, 2020

You're welcome! I've read all your stories, and every time, I'm amazed at the professional-like style of writing you have! It is so engaging and I'm pulled in every time. Seriously keep writing; you are SO GOOD! Also, because you're such an amazing writer, would you mind giving me feedback on my newest story "Two Sides"? It's actually a short story connected to the ten-book series I'm writing, the first book of which "Saved at a Cost" is the prologue.

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Sarah Kaderbek
00:51 Jun 28, 2020

Only was just able to comment---hope it helps!

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