My senior year in high school, I was taking an AP Calculus class. I’ve never been great at math, and calculus was extremely difficult for me. Toward the end of the school year, when we were within a month of taking the final exam, I had to go to both early morning and afternoon study groups to understand the concepts that I was consistently getting wrong answers on.
I became obsessed with passing the test. I didn’t want all of this hard work and effort I was putting into studying to be in vain.
I had some really great friends my senior year. Most of my friends all wanted to get good grades and go to college, and we really helped each other out. However, because of the stress of this test, I told everyone to leave me alone. Whenever anyone would invite me to hang out or study with them, if it didn’t have to do with calculus, I wasn’t interested. Pretty soon, most of my friends stopped asking me to hang out and just let me do my own thing.
One friend, however, was constantly telling me I needed to take a break and do something fun, or I was going to burn myself out. I started to really get annoyed by that, and, one day, when she invited me to lunch with her, I snapped. I told her to pretend I didn’t exist until this test was over. I felt bad about snapping at her, but I just didn’t want any distractions.
A couple of hours after school was out, I was sitting at my kitchen table trying to work out some sample problems. Our teacher had given us the answers so that we would know if we got the right answer or not. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the answer to one particular problem. I was almost in tears when I heard a knock on the door.
I grumbled under my breath at the fact that no one else was home and I had to leave what I was doing to answer the door. I also tried to perk up my face, so it wouldn’t look like I had been on the brink of crying.
When I opened the door, there was my friend, the one I had yelled at, with a Wendy’s chocolate frosty (my favorite ice cream at the time) and a card. Her words kind of rushed out at me before I could even open my mouth. I don’t think she even took a breath as she blurted out, “I know you don’t want any distractions, so I’m not staying. I just thought you could use some encouragement, and now I’m leaving.” Then she handed me the frosty and the card, jumped down the stairs, and headed for her car before I could even respond.
I went to the table and opened the card. I don’t remember everything that was written, but I remember the last sentence was “You can do it! I believe in you.” It was funny, or ironic, not sure…but just at that moment, I realized the mistake I had been making on the problem…and then I started crying.
I have been so mean to that friend, and she had turned around and responded with kindness. And her kindness helped me find a solution to the problem at hand.
I have never forgotten that sincere gesture of kindness from my friend. It was such a simple thing, yet it has stayed with me ever since. We never know what a small act of kindness can do for another human being. I once heard a saying that went, “When in doubt, be kind.” I’m so grateful my friend showed kindness toward me, even when she had every reason not to. Her kindness made all the difference.