I’ve had my share of bad days at West, but one day last October was particularly awful. I was honestly doomed from the start, but my feelings were intensified by a rough Spanish presentation. To make matters even worse, as tears welled up in my eyes a girl turned to me and said, “Your face is all red and blotchy.”
In all fairness, she probably wasn’t that blunt. Still, the tears that were already building suddenly wouldn’t stop coming. As I sat in Spanish, it was hard to breathe and the world felt like it was crashing down around me.
Midway through that day, I got a Facebook message. It was from a classmate in my Spanish class. I had never really talked to him other than in-class discussions, but I knew he was a native Spanish speaker.
His messages, however, were in English. He asked me if I was okay, and I ranted to him about my day and my awful presentation. He consoled me and told me it was easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re speaking an unfamiliar language; he felt the same way when he had to speak English.
Even though our conversation was brief, I think about it often. I continue to be amazed by the fact he could be so open and kind even when we didn’t know each other and barely spoke the same language.
I live my life under the mantra “kindness matters.” I believe that even the smallest act of kindness can make a difference in someone’s life. Although high school was hard, my strongest memories from West are times when people showed me, love. Kindness is something that transcends culture, language, life experiences and everything else.
So thank you, West High, for being (mostly) kind to me. Thank you to the boy in my Spanish class. Thank you to my friend in chemistry who gave me a paper flower when I told him I was having a rough day. Thank you to my teachers who help me even when I feel like a lost cause. Thank you to my best friends for showing me how to love and be loved (Lydia, Elaina, Molly, Kat, Claire, Will, Reagan – you light up my life).
I don’t claim to be a paragon of joy and light and kindness all the time, but believe me, I try my best. I hope that West High remembers me not necessarily for my accomplishments, but for the way I loved.