Half Orange: Smiling into the New Year


Photo courtesy of Lopez.

Bek Lopez, Managing Editor

This previously ran in our February 2023 print issue.

With the new year rolling in and nearly two months already under our belts, I’m still trying to turn over a new leaf and meet my New Year’s goals. One of these goals involves random acts of kindness and bringing it into the world. It’s amazing how far a little bit of kindness can go.

 Just stop and think about the last time a person did something kind for you. Something that wasn’t selfish or just polite but an action that meant something. For me, the most memorable ones are those that are fleeting and simple, as if the person didn’t even have to think about being kind. 

That person took time out of their day to help you out, and whether they intended it or not, they left a little bit of sunshine in their wake. In a perfect world, everyone would be kind and fair, but it’s far from perfect here. That’s what makes these small acts of kindness so beautiful. 

Every day I try to be kind, smiling at people in the hallway and holding the door open. It feels good to bring just a little bit of kindness to the world, in these small innocent doses that keep me sane. A smile can brighten up someone’s whole day, and as a receiver of such kindness, I know how good it can feel to be seen. Just a small gesture like that can turn a bad day on its head. You’d be surprised by the amount of people who will smile and say “hi” if you just smile first. That’s all it takes – one second – and suddenly you feel a lot better. It’s honestly astonishing how something little like that can change the fate of a whole day.

I love when people smile at me like we’re not strangers, like somehow we’re all connected. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, we are a community that shares much more in common than we think. 

I believe that people are generally kind, and that is our first instinct. I think that sometimes we get so wrapped up in ourselves and the woes of day-to-day life that we almost forget what it’s like when someone is genuinely kind. We’re all busy, rushing off to the next best thing and sometimes we get used to the isolation that comes with busy everyday life. 

For me, my goal is not to rush off to the next thing, but to stand in one spot and take it all in. I want to stop and smell the roses, like that old quote goes, taking in the world and everything beautiful that hides in everyday life. Not only do I want to pause, but I want to bring a little warmth to the world. It could be anything from giving my gratitude to showing people close to me how much I cherish them. I want to make someone smile, even if it’s just for a moment. And I know not every day is going to be a good day and that’s just the way the world is. I’d take 100 frowns just for one smile. It feels like a secret language when you smile or wave at someone in the hallway, it’s like an “I see you in this crowd of strangers” and there’s some satisfaction at speaking this language. Once you know it, suddenly the world becomes a lot brighter. I’m no expert, and I’m still a bit awkward when it comes to the finer things, but at least I’m trying. Nothing is ever going to be perfect, especially when it comes to people and their complexities. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to be complex and in-depth, but once in a while, the best thing you can do is smile back.