What is the kindest thing you’ve ever been told?

It seemed that being seen—heard, noticed, acknowledged—was the sincerest compliment of all. 

Three beautiful humans amongst the hundreds in our crowded halls spent hours, days even, deliberating this week’s thought-provoking question: what is the kindest thing you’ve ever been told? 

They each had a snippet of a story to tell: a story of gratitude, a story of compassion, a story of kindness. Tying each unique perspective on compliments and kindness together was one common thread: recognition. 

Because it seemed that being seen was the sincerest compliment of all. 

Junior Hannah Wordhouse actively ensures that, even on her bad days, she is “the kind of person someone can depend on.” She is someone who is there, who is seen as reliable and dependable and kind—someone who sees others, even if she isn’t always seen herself. 

So when, one day, a family friend saw Hannah—truly saw her for who she is and what she does—it was enough for her to think of that moment as one of the kindest words she’s ever received. 

“One of the kindest things that someone has ever said to me, or rather about me, is ‘that’s our Hannah.’ She says it whenever I do something helpful or go out of my way to make a difference. Whenever she says it, it fills me with happiness. That’s who I am, a helpful person, and I’m noticed as such.”

The quick, kind comment makes Hannah’s heart swell every time, and the same can be said for senior Jasmine Dawson. 

“Whenever I am having a bad day, my friends always remind me that I am the ‘strongest person they know.’ That is something I find super comforting because when you’re going through something and someone tells you that you’re strong, it only makes you want to get through it faster and work hard to become the best version of yourself.”

Kind words are free—yet infinitely valuable—forms of currency, and Jasmine appreciates the simple—yet profound—words of reassurance and recognition on her lower days. Seen as a fighter, strong and powerful, Jasmine uses the reminders from her friends as fuel to push through the tougher days. 

Junior Audrey Sidebotham uses words as fuel, too, but she turns to the not-so-kind words. 

Explaining how she uses the unkind words spoken to her as motivation in her Ted Talk in April, Audrey came off the stage where she was truly seen for five minutes with a letter waiting for her. 

“A now-senior wrote me a letter [that] said I was beautiful and that I was very smart and that I seemed like a great person. She wrote a whole letter about how I was a great human being; it brought me to tears and I’ve held onto it since.”

The letter, laced with love and recognition and awareness, was written by someone who saw Audrey. They saw Audrey for her beauty, her kindness, her intelligence, her authenticity, for her—for Audrey. 

Recognition: the common thread tying these three stories together. 

Audrey was seen for her unadulterated self. Jasmine was seen for her strength. And Hannah was seen for her reliability. 

It seemed that being seen—heard, noticed, acknowledged—was the sincerest compliment of all. 

If you’re still here, and this is for anyone who wants to listen: I see you. I see Hannah, Jasmine, and Audrey—three of the hundreds of beautiful faces that walk these crowded halls. I see you for all that you are and hope that you can see that, too. 

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