The Android's Guide to Kindness

To be perfectly honest, I feel blessed. I know there are people that suffer much more than I do, and I have always been lucky enough to have lifelines along the way. Despite all the negative things that happened in my life, there have always been kind people that reached out. They still do, and many times these people barely know me. I’m not just talking about the present day. Even in my darkest of days, which was, of course, the terrible days of middle school, people cared. Even then there were still kind people that came across my path.

Even when the sky opens up and the space octopuses attack,
kind people will still be there. You just have to notice them between tentacle attacks.

My encounter with a girl named Erin and her friend Abby is a perfect example of one such kindness. It was the end of the school year in 7th grade and I had just purchased a yearbook. Being dirt poor, buying that alone was an accomplishment in itself. At this point, I had not made any close friends after being there for a year and a half. Friends would come in the eighth grade, but this isn’t about them. In homeroom, all the other kids switched yearbooks back and forth and signed little notes and jokes to each other in the blank pages, but mine just sat there on the corner of my desk, just in case. I left it there, just in case someone gave a shit enough to write in it. For some reason, I had hope. What a terrible mistake that was, but there was one exception.

As a quick aside, the memory of this story popped up when I was watching the second season of Atypical on Netflix. It’s a show about a kid named Sam in high school who happens to be on the autism spectrum. The show is both funny and heartwarming and definitely worth watching. In the second season, (SPOILERS) some other students take Sam’s yearbook and instead of signing it, write terrible things in it. It was horrific and just plain mean. A few weeks later, a friend of mine told me the same thing had happened to him in high school and it broke my heart to hear it. I hadn't even mentioned the episode. It just came up in casual conversation. Apparently it's a common story.

Back to my story. The girl sitting next to me in homeroom was named Erin. She had always been kind to me, but I don’t think I talked to her that much. At that point, my social anxiety was in full force. I’ll never forget what she did that day. She yanked the yearbook off my desk without asking and turned to the big open back page, where not a single other person had written a thing. I think she understood my pain and she wrote a long note that took up the entire page in big girly handwriting. I don’t think I still have the yearbook, or I would love to look back and read what she wrote. It was something about it being nice sitting next to me in homeroom. Her friend Abby also added a quick message and then passed the book back to me. The content of the messages didn’t matter, but the fact that they understood my isolation and filled in that gap with something still fills my heart to this day. It felt like someone actually cared.

Some people actually care. Others are just assholes.
Avoid them at all costs. The 'block' button on Facebook exists
for a reason.

Over the last few months, I have been going through some big life changes. Along the way, I have received similar kindnesses from people, some from friends I have known for years, and some from people that I only recently became acquainted with.

I have had hugs from a person I knew only a few days.

I have had words of encouragement from people I befriended only recently.

I have had friends and family text me to make sure I’m still alive and yes, I’m still kicking, and I honestly love life way too much to ever check out.

To those kind people, past and present, thank you. It may seem like a little thing to send a text or call to ask how a friend is doing, or to give a grieving person a hug, or to sign a social pariah’s yearbook with a generic but friendly message. But to someone suffering, it means the world to them and it can give them more hope in humanity than you can ever understand.

Thank you for being kind.