Wilton Warrior Words - Kindness

Olivia Vitarelli

Olivia Vitarelli

Hearst Connecticut Media

World Kindness Day was Nov. 13. While I have always strongly valued kindness, high school has caused me to grow increasingly aware of the astronomical impact a minor action can have on somebody. Whether you bring a new perspective to someone’s self critical trance with a compliment, or make them feel seen and appreciated by holding the door, an action that you feel carries no weight or importance might rescue someone from an awful day.

When I was a freshman, the most impressionable words came from upperclassmen. They were invincible holograms of perfection, people whose respect you longed for and who you aspired to be. I had the privilege of establishing friendships with many seniors and juniors as an underclassman through my involvement in theater. When they said so much as “great job” after a rehearsal, or waved enthusiastically in the hallway, I felt a strong sense of visibility and value, two sentiments that are easy to lose as a small freshman in a seemingly massive high school.

Undoubtedly, one of my favorite parts of being a senior is being involved in activities like soccer and theater, where I have gotten to know many underclassmen personally. Not only has it humanized the upperclassmen of my time (turns out they were probably not perfect), but it has also allowed me to spread their warmth and positivity to a new generation.

It has been so rewarding to assume the role of upperclassman and be in a position where spreading kindness is such an accessible and impressionable act. But thankfully, I have still been on the receiving end of acts of kindness this year. I have a memory, vivid not in sight or sound but in the way it made me feel, of someone holding the door for me as I walked into the high school this fall. There were abundant stresses and doubts cluttering my mind, from college applications to quiz grades and more, and I walked into school evaluating every assignment and task I would have to complete that day. I was growing increasingly overwhelmed and my state of mind was straying farther from the present with each step I took. When I was about 10 yards away from the door, I looked up to see that someone was holding the door for me. Strangely enough, I didn’t feel the sense of panic that I was too far from the door and now would have to engage a walk-run hybrid to get there faster and avoid inconveniencing the do-gooder. I was just thankful. It was a reminder that I would not have to face any of those impending obstacles alone.

It’s strange, but small acts of kindness truly do have substantial effects. And whatever seems irrelevant to you, like complimenting someone’s shirt or picking up their pencil for them, might be just what they need. There’s no way of knowing for sure, so maybe we should all play it safe and try to be kind in every situation, to everyone. We all benefit, and even if you are complimenting someone who is on top of the world, it can’t hurt to raise them up a little higher.

Olivia Vitarelli is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with three classmates.