Kindness Matters

Prompt that inspired me: What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you a year (or five, or ten…) ago?

Do you remember getting your picture taken in school and then getting a bunch of those wallet sized pictures that, after writing some profound thoughts and acronyms on them, you’d pass out to all of your friends? Well, I remember them and I remember amassing a huge collection by the time I finished high school. Still, I only really remember what one of the said.

During my senior year, I had class with a new girl (new to the school). She was very sweet, but a little quiet. We sat next to each other and, not thinking much about it, I started talking to her (I was a chatty Kathy back then). We were never really friends – we never hung out after school or even exchanged phone numbers – but we chatted every day in class. At the end of the year, she gave me one of her senior pictures and on the back she thanked me for being nice to her, for not caring that we weren’t in the same group of friends, for not caring that some people thought I was popular that she was. She thanked me for making the “new kid feel comfortable in a new place”.

I was floored. It had never crossed my mind that I had that power: to offer comfort and a sense of belonging by just… being nice. While I got other pictures with nice words or funny anecdotes or joyful memories, nothing stuck with me like hers did. Now, every day, I make an effort to be nice to whomever I meet: I smile at the young woman on the way to the train station; I ask the coffee shop clerk how his day is going; if I see someone crying, I stop and ask them if they’re okay. They’re not big things, they’re not hard to do, but I can’t help but think that they matter.

So, I wasn’t inspired to write about what I wish someone told me, but rather what I’d tell someone else: Kindness matters, it matters so much more than you may think. We all have the power to affect someone else’s day.

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