Commentary: Kindness comes before everything else

Ashley Yung, Lifestyle editor

  I have a confession: I am completely and entirely selfish.

  Last year, when I had insomnia, I was cranky the following day. When school got difficult, I rudely ignored my friends and my family. When I did poorly on a test, I didn’t feel like congratulating those who did well. I thought when people were mean to me, I was justified in being mean back.

  I used these circumstances as my excuse. I refused to believe that I was an unpleasant person. That my relationships were failing. I considered myself “relatively” nice – as if there were some low standard I should be proud of surpassing.

  Another confession: I didn’t really think kindness mattered. Sure, I’d say it. But my actions didn’t attest for it. I wanted myself to be what colleges wanted me to be: smart and talented. Kindness seemed so inferior in comparison.

  I think my perspective really changed when I went to a two week overnight creative writing camp.

  Don’t get me wrong, these people astonished me with their creativity, their brains and their humor, but I didn’t cry on the plane ride home because of that. I don’t call it the best two weeks of my life because of how much I admire their talent.

  I cried because I was leaving the kindest people I had ever met behind. Because I didn’t know if I’d ever feel so accepted again. If I’d ever feel such overwhelming care.


My camp friends helped me overcome some of my darkest internal battles. They taught me what love is. What selflessness is. What acceptance is.”

  My camp friends helped me overcome some of my darkest internal battles. They taught me what love is. What selflessness is. What acceptance is.

And for the first time, people told me I was beautiful. People told me I should never feel worthless and that circumstances do not determine my identity. And I cried because I had never heard such encouraging words before. And I cried again because for the first time, I believed the compliments.

  And I thought about home. About the insecurities I had. About the pain I went through. About the selfish thinking that tore me down when I failed myself. And I thought about how I left that all behind not because I got smarter or more talented or metamorphosed into some perfect person. I changed because kind people influenced my perception of myself and what is important in life.


And I came to a consensus: the best people are the kindest people.

  When I had a selfish mindset, I liked being kind because it made me feel good about myself.

  But now, kindness is so much more than that. Kindness is about uplifting people. It’s about forgetting yourself for a second and thinking about the wonderful people around you. It’s about listening to people. Helping them. Genuinely caring about them. It’s about creating smiles and being addicted to the feeling of watching someone else be happy.