Picture this. You are sitting in the cafeteria at lunch, gossiping and chatting about everything you did over the weekend with your friends. You talk about what you wore, who you saw, maybe even that cute boy you talked to. Along with all the discussion about yourself, you also are discussing other people, and sometimes, it is not the most positive conversation in the world. It starts out as a little thing, just making fun of someone you don’t know that well to get a laugh out of your friends. You don’t think anything of it.
Fast forward, you are no longer the person discussing. You are the person being discussed. Your friend makes a comment to you about the way you look, or a personality trait that you secretly wish you could change. She doesn’t realize what she is saying, or how bad it hurts you. She was just trying to make her friends laugh, much like what you did the day before about the random girl in your grade. You didn’t realize what you were saying about her until now, but recognize it when you feel the sting of a remark that wasn’t even intended to hurt you.
What we don’t realize as high school students is that everything we say, everything we do can cause a ripple effect. High school is the most vulnerable time of our lives, full of insecurity and the longing to belong. Everyone wants the same thing: to be accepted and to feel loved. So why do we tear others down, when we know how it feels? Why do we try and make others laugh at the expense of others, when it would hurt us if we were in that position?
The universal truth that we all need to realize is that it’s the little things that count and can play a huge effect on our lives, whether it be positive or negative. It is so easy to get wrapped up in a negative conversation about someone else, to be so oblivious to the fact that maybe the person you commented on is now forever scarred by your remark. The criticism is always in the back of her mind, the reason she is now insecure about that certain trait all started from the one little statement that meant nothing to the person giving it, but everything to the person taking it.
On the other hand, positive behavior can make someone’s whole day. Whether it be a smile in the hall, a compliment on someone’s shoes, or simply just asking how they’re doing, you can benefit someone’s life in a small, but mighty way. The good always outweighs the bad. An act of kindness that may be no big deal for you could be somebody else’s source of hope when they’re having a bad day or when they feel doubt. If we turn our hostile energy into alacrity, we can leave an enduring effect on the people all around us. Like St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small actions with great love.”