When someone thinks of a kind person, it is not unusual to think of all the things they have done for the benefit of someone else. There is even a phrase, Acts of kindness. But what if there are other ways to show kindness that often get overlooked? One of the most underrated forms of kindness is listening.
Every person has a story, and a lot of people have no one to tell it to. This summer, I had the opportunity to work with mostly middle schoolers at a summer camp, and it was almost unbelievable how many of them just wanted someone to talk to– someone who would ask them questions and would show any amount of interest in who they are. It can be so easy to get caught up in everyday life and what we can get out of it, that we forget that everyone else is going through their own lives.
While being a camp counselor, countless stories of people were shared with me, from students and other co-workers alike. Some of the coolest stories I have heard, and then gotten the chance to be part of, have sprung from taking the time to sit down and listen to the people around me. The backgrounds and events that everyone had lived through were so different and yet alike in many ways. While the separate experiences were varying, the overall themes of strength and dignity were the same. I think it is an incredible opportunity to now be at a school that is made up of so many different people all living different lives and getting to apply that concept here. That while we are all separate in the events we have been through, they can also be the things that bring us together.
The trap of believing you have to do some grand, extravagant gesture to prove you care about someone, while the gesture itself should not be discouraged, is simply that, a trap. Showing compassion can be seen in a million different ways, but do not let it be overthought. Kindness can look like staying an extra minute after class to ask how your teacher is doing or listening to your classmate rant about the homework assignment they forgot about. The seemingly small act of listening to someone else can go a long way.