I’m young and naïve; so people tell me. My parents say that to me on a daily basis. Although, in my short 21 years of life, I like to believe that I’ve discovered a simple truth in life. If you’re good to people, then people will be good to you. This is my life’s philosophy. I think I heard it in a movie, but I can’t remember which one. Even though I’m blanking on the source, this idea has always been the guiding principle for my actions. Luckily, my parents also believe this philosophy so it’s ingrained into my way of life since birth. Although, as I get older, and have already had many wonderful life experiences, I’ve seen this idea become a reality. I’ve met so many people who are just full of love and compassion, and open to connection. At first, I just thought I was insanely lucky. I’d share my stories with friends, and they’d always say how I always had the good fortune of meeting such wonderful people. But lately, I’ve been thinking it’s more than luck. I like to think now that the reason I’ve connected with so many incredible people is because I was open to them.
My favorite example of this is of a local restaurant here in Boston called Café 472. It opened up my sophomore year at BU, and from the moment I tried their frozen yogurt, I was hooked. It’s a small place comprised of a very small and international staff. The employees are mostly Middle Eastern and even though they’re all from different countries, they somehow communicate in one language that’s not English. My friends and I went literally once a week for their froyo. I refused to go to any other froyo place in Boston after I discovered Café 472. It got to the point where after establishing ourselves as dedicated customers, my friends and I convinced the owner to buy a jar of Nutella just for us, to create a Nutella froyo flavor.
My relationship with Café 472 changed the summer after my junior year of college. A Starbucks opened up on the same block, and I got transferred to work at that new location. One morning, I saw the owner of Café 472 come into Starbucks, and I got so excited to see him just because he’s always been so kind to my friends and I when we go to his restaurant. If I like you, then you get free Starbucks from me. So I gave him a free coffee with a big smile, because I was genuinely happy to see him. He initially looked really taken aback and confused, but appreciatively accepted the small gift.
I went to Café 472 that weekend like I normally do, and he gave me my frozen yogurt for free. I would’ve jumped up and down with excitement, but I didn’t want to scare the poor guy. Since then, the owner and every other employee has never let me pay for any froyo or food. But, it’s become so much more than the exchange of free food. When I go now, I greet and talk to everyone. When I left to study abroad at the end of the summer, I went to say goodbye. Everyone hugged me, and one of the girls even started getting teary-eyed, which caused me to get teary-eyed. They’re my friends now. When I told them I’d be moving to San Francisco after graduation, one of the women said that they were all going to miss me. Another girl said she’d love to come and visit me someday. They’ve told me they’re excited to meet my family when they come for my graduation in May.
This wonderful group of friends that I’ve made came from simply being open to connecting with them. For two years, they were just people I saw once a week who sold delicious froyo and food. Now, they’re all good friends who I’m going to miss when I leave.
I believe that people respond to kindness. I’m not saying I’m a saint, or that I haven’t had moments where I’ve acted like a bitch when provoked. Everyone has bad moments. But it’s something to strive for. I just think it’s important to live with the mindset that you should always treat people with compassion and love. It’s such a simple statement. One that everyone claims to already know, but I don’t think that everyone lives by it. If they did, we wouldn’t have half the problems in the world that we do today. I don’t know, people tell me I’m young, naïve, too optimistic like those are bad things to be. So I may be all of those things, but I wouldn’t want to be anything else. I’d rather focus on seeing the beauty in people than concentrating on the rougher edges. And I must say that people also tell me that I’ve had the “luck” of having great experiences and forming these random wonderful relationships with people. So I must be doing something right, no? Try it for yourself and let me know what happens.