A defining moment in my life happened when I was 9 and my best friend wrote me a “break up” letter. She told me that she didn’t want to be friends anymore because I always had the answers in class.
“Nobody likes a know-it-all,” the letter said. “It makes everyone else look bad.”
I was deeply hurt and confused by this. I found such pleasure in learning things. I would spend quite a bit of time studying my lessons because I truly enjoyed it. I also wanted to please my teacher by doing my best because she seemed as excited about the subjects as I was.
The thought never occurred to me that other people weren’t as enthusiastic as me. Why wouldn’t they want to show u...
I volunteer quite a bit. When I mention it to people, I feel strangely uncomfortable when they say things like “How wonderful to do such a kind and selfless thing.” I was never really sure where my discomfort came from until recently.
There is a man at the soup kitchen that I occasionally volunteer at, who has been there for many years. When a volunteer mentioned to him that his kindness was an inspiration to her, he said “Don’t be inspired by me. It’s not kindness that motivates me to serve- it’s guilt.”
That statement stopped me in my tracks and made me think. Could guilt also be the motivating factor behind my kindness, and is that the reason behind why I a...