Don’t give up on making a difference
I have been an avid watcher of The Ellen Show, featuring Ellen Degeneres, since I was little. I cannot remember a time that I wasn’t recording the shows if I wasn’t home after school. I even scheduled my college classes around the morning showtime in NYC or the afternoon showtime in Philadelphia. It worked out really well for me all these years.
Now, working a semi-normal work schedule, I’m back to recording the shows and binge-watching them all on the weekends. For those of you who may not know, Ellen ends every episode of her talk show with, “Be kind to one another”. Even though I’ve heard this for the last 15 seasons, it’s not something that is easily attainable.
When someone cuts me off on the way to work, when my coffee order goes awry, or even when my dog pulls at the lead trying to go after another dog or person, I tend to get flustered.
Many who know me will tell you that I have a very short fuse, and for all intent and purpose, they’d be correct. However, I think about Ellen’s ending remarks quite a lot. Especially within the last two weeks.
The last week in October is Red Ribbon Week. It’s the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country. Part of my job includes going into schools and giving presentations to the students on drugs and alcohol. All in an effort to create a “Drug Free America”. Most typically, in the schools that I’ve presented in, the students have a skewed perception of drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, most is because the students have family or friends who use the drugs that I’m telling them are not good to use.
When I walked into some of the schools last year, I expected them to be much like the ones I grew up in. This wasn’t the case at all. Teachers were screaming at the students—the students were deserving of it for the amount of disrespect that they’d shown the teachers—and all together, it felt like it was not a healthy, conducive environment for the students or teachers to be in every day.
This year, I knew what I was walking into, I felt well-prepared, and again was defeated at the end of the day and brought myself to the same conclusion. In the classroom, I tried to engage the students by talking about things that they’d enjoy. Honestly, I’m really good at getting students to talk about drugs and alcohol.
Students would begin telling me stories of their experiences with drugs and alcohol, and instead of bringing them back on track to answer the question I had asked. I found myself listening to 15+ students in every class telling me what they know and how that’s impacting them.
While I know I may not have accomplished the goals I was supposed to, I think I accomplished something more. The students wanted someone to listen to them. I had something that they could relate to and express that they might not have been able to do so at home.
Showing small acts of kindness, like smiling at someone as they walk past, acknowledging your drive-thru barista at Starbucks, by changing your wording to say “Thank you so much! I hope you have a great rest of your day”, or waving at the crossing guards as you drive to work. We’ve all heard those stories of people who walking back and forth on the Golden Gate Bridge trying to talk themselves into hurling over the edge when one person smiled at them and it changed their outlook to continue fighting one more day.
I hope that I encouraged the students I talked to throughout this week, to know that they have the opportunity to be more than what they’re home life will lead them by telling them, just like Ellen, to “be kind to one another”.
While I recommend everyone watch The Ellen Show, I would genuinely just wish everyone could try to be more kind. People that assist you aren’t slaves, kids just want validation that their feelings are real, and I think the world could be a much better place with more kindness.
If you’d like to join in with Ellen and Cheerios in their One Million Acts of Good, use the hashtag #goodgoesaround or just do it everyday to makes others lives brighter.