Sometimes, we don’t even realise how impactful our small, kind acts can be on someone.
I used to volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Every week for about an hour, while I was in University, I would get up early, take the bus to George Jay Elementary School in Victoria. I would pick my “little sister”, Brianna, up at her classroom door, where she always greeted me with a wide smile and would wrap her arms around me in a big hug.
Some days, we would do crafts, colour, or play board games. Other times, we would simply talk about life or friends or things that were troubling her. We kept an on-going journal full of warm fuzzies (nice things). No matter how badly her day was going, I’d always ask her to think of some things she loved about herself to write in the book. I’d always write some “warm fuzzies” in there about her, too. I guess on some level, I knew I was contributing to her happiness in the moment, but I never knew how deeply our visits would affect her later in her life.
I sort of lost touch with B, as we both grew up and got busy with our lives. One day, I saw her, now 22, working at a nearby grocery store behind the fish counter. She shouted my name and in much the same way as she once had as a little girl, ran over and wrapped her arms around me. We caught up, reflected on how much had changed in our lives, and reminisced about our Big Sister Days.
She stopped suddenly, pulled back her shirtsleeve and showed me a tattoo on her wrist. She explained she has struggled with depression and anxiety, making some days hard to face. But, she said, you always said how important it was to love myself. In those dark days, I’d often reread our journal of “warm fuzzies” and I’d remember that I was worthy of belonging, and worthy of my place on this earth. That’s why I got the word “amor” tattooed on my wrist (Spanish word for love); it serves as a constant reminder that I have to love myself first and I learned that from you.
Kindness has rippling and profound effects that challenge the bounds of our imaginations. Take the leap and dare bravely to make a difference.