In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pay It Forward.”

Tell us about a time when you responded to an act of kindness with one of your own.

I tend to repay kindness with awkward gratitude. Dude opens the door for me? Oh, thank you *nervous smile*. Best friend backs me up in a tight social situation? I’ll smile warmly through a rush of gratitude.

I enjoy playing the role of the damsel in distress; it’s easier, people look out for me and take care of me. I might even try to justify this by saying that my presence brings out the best in people. I give them an opportunity to demonstrate their kindness.

Of course, this is pure manipulation. I find the world a scary place, so I look for a protector. However, in the process of accepting this cloak of vulnerability, I also give up the right to be firm, be bold, and be brave. Fear quivers in my pores. It will continue to do so until I accept that I am not easily destroyed, and I do not need someone to shield me from life.

I’m not – not! – advocating that we should refuse all kindness. This is what I am saying: that I wear a facade that charms people to take care of me, because I feel I need that to survive.

And perhaps I did, a time not so long ago. Perhaps this was a mechanism I learned since young in order to keep my heart safe. But I’m growing now, and I can’t bud and flower unless I overcome this.

The last time someone was kind to me, I smiled shyly, grateful from the bottom of my heart. The next time someone is kind to me, I will smile and thank them sincerely. And then I will listen to the part of me that believes she is capable and strong, and from that part I will reach out and help someone else.

This is my courage, and this is my pride.


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