Name: Abigail ...
From: Portland, OR
School: Reed College
Why Kindness Saved My Life
Kindness Saved My Life
have always been an open book; always expressive about my emotions or
my opinions. Because this has been my default, I assumed other people
were the same way. But it wasn’t until I had something to hide that
I realized other people are not always open and situations are not
always black and white: people have dimensions, and those dimensions
are not always seen by others. My secret? I was struggling with
depression and anxiety.
the beginning, I thought I was just having a bad day. My family and
friends just told me to shake it off, but it always felt like more
than that. My optimism about the future began to dwindle. I felt
alone in a crowded room. I felt as though I was screaming, but no one
could hear me. A bad day turned into a bad week. A bad week turned
into a bad month.
the outside looking inwards I was living a perfect life; I had a
nuclear family, I was active, I was in all advanced classes, and I
had a lot of friends. But if my life was so perfect, why did I feel
this way? Why was every single day a bad day, even if something went
well? I wanted something to blame for my pain; a specific thing or
circumstance I could target to improve my mood.
hid my depression and anxiety from everyone, including myself. I
never thought about it or talked about how I was feeling with anyone
other than my parents and my therapist, who I saw weekly. People saw
me, but didn’t see me: didn’t see my pain: didn’t see my struggle. I
was hiding a large part of my life, and wondered who else was. What
kindness was I neglecting to give to people who might be hissing
weekly therapy sessions allowed me to hear myself talk about the pain
I was putting myself through by looking for something to blame for my
depression. I learned that there isn’t always a clear culprit. I
also learned that bad days are normal: it’s okay to not be okay.
Time was one of the biggest factors in my healing process. Months
went by before I saw progress in myself, but once I saw progress, it
was easier to see the good in life.
of learning nothing from the situation and merely moving on, I wanted
to reflect. My view of others changed; instead of just looking at
people as open books, I look at people with more dimensions. Kindness
matters because I never know who needs it to make their day or to
lift them up. While I can not see people completely, I can approach
everyone with kindness as though they have something else affecting
them. People’s actions are influenced by things others can not see,
and I now approach every new person with this in mind. Although my
anxiety and depression took a long time to overcome, I believe it has
made me see the people around me in a new light and with a new heart,
thus bettering my life.
Scholarship– Abigail Durrant
to Love Learning– Advice to Freshman
going to make an assumption that the vast majority of the applicants
have perfect GPAs. All of those students are most likely excellent
candidates. Unlike the hundreds that apply to this scholarship I find
my flaws and mistakes as something not to hide, but to accept with a
sense of pride. At the end of sophomore year, I was ranked top of my
class; by the end of my junior year, I had received not one, but four
B’s, three of which occurred in the last semester. This
less-than-perfect year is not an embarrassment to me, but perhaps one
of my greatest accomplishments.
first B was in physics, in what I thought would be an easy and
enjoyable class. Because of my above-average math capabilities, I
assumed physics would be a breeze: I had a rude awakening. Late
nights in tears combined with red pen all over my tests made for the
hardest class I have ever taken. My lunch break was not mine: physics
owned my lunches. With my three AP classes, two varsity sports,
extracurriculars, and volunteer hours, I was falling behind in the
one class I should’ve been ahead in.
the end of the first semester came and went, I patiently awaited my
report card, lying to myself about what I knew was in the letter. It
arrived—my first B. It was as though the monster under my bed as a
child had re-emerged, but as my new worst fear. I was heartbroken. I
tried to turn a new page for the next semester, but the depression
was a wall I couldn’t get over quickly enough. The next report card
had three B’s on it.
took about a month of summer to get my mind off of junior year; I had
to abandon the idealism in order to turn around and reflect. I sat in
my room, thinking about what happened, but I didn’t think about how I
reacted until I went to Steens Mountain Running Camp in Burns, Oregon
with my cross country teammates. There, I learned the power I hold
over myself, and what I could do to change the past: nothing. I can
only change how I react to it. Following the near-spiritual
experience at Steens, I began to look at my imperfections not as
flaws, but as opportunities for growth. That is the advice I would
give freshman: to understand that flaws add dimensions to a person’s
humanity, and that mistakes will happen. Satisfaction is not
synonymous with perfection, and it shouldn’t be. When I began to
love learning for what it is instead of a grade, I began to love
school. I want freshman to love school for the learning, and not for
the pressure grades put on them.