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  • Writer's pictureAnn Yebei

Random Acts of Kindness and the Future

Updated: Jan 22, 2023

Diary Entry #1: Ending April

 

This past week has had serendipitous experiences and opportunities to slow down and reflect again. Before we carry on, I will take a few lines to acknowledge my first diary entry documenting my personal and professional growth; a record of my experiences and intentions (or failures). I pray for only growth, because even if slowly, it remains growth.

An open notebook on a dark wood table with pages unfurling mid-shot. A ballpoint pen is next to the book with a white tea cup behind the cup
Dark with an open notebook, a pen, and a white teacup on a wooden table

This past week has been another week in the thick of Finals. "Finals Week" is a myth. It's "Finals Season" in Graduate School. Honestly, perhaps this concept was also present during my Undergraduate years, but just not as elongated. There was a time (in High School) when Finals was an experience, expectation, and memory limited to a set number of weeks. In Undergrad, it expanded to about half a month due to the various classes delivering exams and projects at their own timelines, and according to their own syllabi. Graduate School? I would say it lasts for about a month- before and after. For the same reasons as the Undergraduate experience.


So, this is the thick of the mess as the term draws to a close in the upcoming 2 weeks. This climaxing of encounters, expectations, and deadlines heightens the line between giving way and giving in. The difference? Giving way is where you stop chasing the goal because you're burnt out. Giving in is where you break down from the stress- caving in essentially. Perhaps you find this relatable. If so, I hope your stress management practice has been LIVE and running alongside you! I recommend the constant practice of grounding, goal-clarification, and task management, because these are the things which have helped me in the past week on a daily level. That and an unplanned experience which blessed me with a reminder of what I had not been doing though it motivates me: service.

A parked deep red SUV on the road in the woods

My campus is situated in a small town, hence it's a campus town, and as neat as it is to study, mingle, and learn in a youthful space, the downside is obvious after a thought: space. Parking space is a pain to find! And I'm not waking up earlier than 8am. Can't. Not happening. So I'm grateful at every level of my being whenever I find parking (and I have favorite spots). Yesterday, I was fortunate to be provided parking from someone who was leaving. I was not expecting it and greatly appreciated it. I was not able to thank him, but I hope he felt as good as I did when I had the fortune to share the same love he had given me.


After teaching my morning class as an Associate Instructor, when I was walking through the lot, I saw a woman in a deep blue SUV looking for parking. When we met eyes, the cues made it clear what she was asking. So, I pulled out my keys, jingled it in front with a grin, and pointed forward further into the lot! With a little skitter and wider strides, I escorted her to my spot, and we exchanged waves through my back window after I'd backed out from my gifted spot.


Isn't it beautiful- arguably the most so? When you see people smile?


I felt like the lucky one- for the second time- and what lingering negativity I may have been carrying (exhaustion, routine, boredom, etc.) was elevated more than I thought possible. I joined the road home and envisioned that she would carry on this honorable mission of passing the Lot until, perhaps, in the distant (or near) future, it would become a legendary parking spot on campus everyone knew about because it was a space of happiness.


I went on a trip. But it was a great and worthy vision if anything.


And that vision and experience reminded me of why I loved service, while reminding me that I had blocked out the world for nearly a month, solely for the reason of academic excellence. My schedule needed editing this weekend and I look forward to projecting into my final Summer term before graduation. There is nothing wrong with prioritizing me, my academic deadlines, and my work obligations as a teacher. The issue is that I had slipped part way and now I'm overcompensating to meet the familiar deadlines. And I wasn't communicating that I needed more time. Or fighting for my social commitments as much as I was my grades. Resulting in someone stressing themselves out, by themselves, and failing to take care of their diet- though they're a pescatarian- and hence resulting in a painful indigestion episode in the middle of the night last night. These are my lowlights and I'm paying (serious) attention.


A white mug with the quote "My cup runneth over" in front of a coffee decanter, and coffee being filtered into a clear coffeemaker
"My cup runneth over" mug infront of coffee equipment

So, this one act of random kindness triggered a chain of service and a dream for the campus parking experience. This parking lot microcosm of life situated me emotionally, physically, and mentally in a position to refresh what kindness I wanted, and still want, to do in the future after graduating. And now, while still a student. Hopefully this little week's worth of a highlight also inspired you to ask what good you have done for others for the sake. Perhaps it was in private. Maybe in public. Or maybe it's a habit and you don't give yourself enough credit. I certainly don't give myself enough credit for carrying the weights I do- never usually do. Hopefully this will gradually change with my weekly reflections and documentation of my journey into tomorrow.


 

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