Like many other bored millennials in the last year, I downloaded TikTok as a joke. Since that fateful day in March 2020, I have (unfortunately) wasted many hours scrolling the app, quickly becoming addicted to the endless stream of content available at my fingertips. Video trends come and go with rapid speed, from choreographed dances to elaborate Starbucks drinks to single-pan pasta recipes. But one I saw recently may be a contender for my favorite, dubbed the #Mosaic trend.

For this one, participating users film themselves reflecting on traits and tendencies they’ve collected from the people close to them. I was struck by how many seemingly small, fragmented moments stuck with people and bundled together to make them so conclusively unique—a living mosaic of stories. I never posted a reflection video, but these ruminations inspired me to determine some of my own collected quirks. 

  • I love writing snail mail because my grandma has been sending me letters, newspaper clippings, and magazine articles since I moved away, and it never fails to make me smile. I hope my notes do the same for my friends.
  • I always scream “CHARGE!!” as loudly as possible at Cardinals’ baseball games because my best friends and I held ourselves singularly responsible for hyping up the crowd (I otherwise do not care about sports).
  • My countdowns are calculated in the “number of sleeps until” the event because that’s how my grandma announces things to us.
  • I try to say the names of waiters and telephone customer service representatives because my dad always thanks them by name.
  • My college housemates used to sing the Gilmore Girls theme song with me, and I still sing “Where You Lead” even when I watch the show alone.
  • My friend Nicole and her family always announce “pooooower up!” when it’s time to accelerate their boat from idle, and I now say this to myself on all floating motorized vehicles.
  • I drink cinnamon hazelnut coffee because it’s my mom’s favorite. I love the taste, and brewing it in the morning always smells like home.
  • I always search for butterflies because one very difficult summer they became a sign of hope and direction for my friend Anna and me. I still see them everywhere.

These are just a handful of tendencies out of hundreds, many of which I’m sure I don’t even realize. The basic sentiment of the TikTok videos remains clear to me: “We’re all mosaics of the people we’ve met, and that’s really beautiful.” We carry around so many nuanced pieces of the people we know, the people we love, and the people we once knew.

My favorite mosaics come in the form of stained glass. The pictures held in the high ceilings of York Minster color my memory—the way the sunlight filters through and reappears on the light stone cathedral interior, creating a whole new, softer image to admire. The painstakingly placed fragments of ancient glass all arranged and set to tell a story. Those broken pieces come alive when filled with light, creating a beautiful bigger picture, almost invisible in the dark.

In that same way, I feel made up of some bits and pieces that are composed into a whole story—a vessel for who I am at the core plus all the mosaic pieces I’ve picked up along the way. I hope a story of adventure is visible in me when the light shines through. And I like to think that people are walking around embodying some good pieces of me, too.


  1. Alex Johnson

    I remember as a middle schooler I was always self-conscious when I picked up my friend’s speaking habits, worried that they would think I was copying them or whatever and ostracize me for it (gotta love hyper-aware pre-teen thoughts). Since then I haven’t really thought about what I’ve taken from other people, but I absolutely loved reading this way more positive (and healthy) framing of what we take from our communities. Getting a glimpse into your own mosaic was a plus too!

    • Olivia Harre

      Thank you for sharing! I absolutely did the same thing, always picking up friends’ speaking habits – I hope you’re able to see some positives in your own mosaic as a result!

  2. Kyric Koning

    This is super cool. Perhaps cool enough to make a theme month???
    I do really like the idea of how we are all fragments of each other, adopting little aspects of those around us into our own lives. The concept of a mosaic is cool too–taking a bunch of small, mostly insignificant things and making a whole, beautiful picture or story out of it. And our focus often tends to hyperfocus on one extreme or the other (the big picture or the small part) when both are equally important and beautiful.

    Thanks for all the warm pieces over your course here. Reading them always felt a little bit like home. Always a comfort. Take that with you and continue to insert that into others’ lives so that they’ll carry that with them too, as a much needed mosaic piece.

    • Olivia Harre

      Kyric, thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. Filing this comment away for days I doubt my writing. I appreciate you taking the time to read and share your thoughts, and I’m so grateful my pieces have been a comfort.


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