You woke up early this morning and looked at your alarm clock glowing in the dark. It’s 5:30 am. You don’t want to get up, but you have to. Why? You ask yourself. It’s expected of you. You get up and try to put on the light. Of course, there isn’t any light. You struggle to go through the motions, and then you’re out the door. You’re tired and angry. You don’t want to have this day.

As you go down the stairs, you bump into a man running up past you and your bag falls, spilling some of its contents. He says he is so sorry and bends to help you pick your stuff up, but you shout at him not to worry, snatching your things from his hands and storming past him. What you didn’t know was that he was rushing to meet his wife right above you on the 3rd floor. She has gone into labour and had called him thirty minutes ago. He was running late because he had to rush from work and got stuck in traffic. He was terrified. His wife must be howling in pain waiting for him; it was their first child, and he needed to get to her. He didn’t mean to annoy you.

You get to the bus stop, and as you’re about to enter, a lady pushes you and runs in. You’re livid. What is wrong with everyone this morning? On the day you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, everyone has connived to drive you crazy. You eventually get onto the bus, and if looks could kill, yours would have put her six feet under; to your dismay, she doesn’t even make eye contact with you. Argh! effort wasted. You walk up to her and give her a piece of your mind. With eyes as wide as saucers, she apologizes profusely; she didn’t mean to. Rolling your eyes, you walk away, thinking to yourself, “sure, she didn’t see me. liar!”  What you didn’t know was that her shift had ended at 2 am, she had overslept and was running late for her interview in 10 minutes time. This is her last opportunity to try to get a reasonable job that pays well, or she’ll be kicked out of her house for defaulting on her rent. Jobs are scarce; this may just be her last chance. She didn’t even see you.

It’s lunchtime and you’re starving. Your day has been uneventful so far, thank God. You’ve ordered, and you’re waiting for your food. It’s been almost 20 minutes, but your waitress is not back yet. Your break ends in ten minutes. Your waitress returns with your order, mumbling an apology as she hurries off. Are they kidding you? She should be fired. You didn’t even notice her bloodshot eyes. A few seconds after taking your order, her mum called to inform her about her dad’s demise. She forgot to drop your order with the chef and ran into the bathroom. Her manager, not knowing what was going on, banged on the door and screamed at her to come out. She noticed your order crumpled in her hand and ran to give it to the cook. She didn’t mean to keep you waiting, but her world had just collapsed around her. She hadn’t even gotten to say goodbye.

The day’s over, and you’re supposed to meet your friend at the park to practice a presentation you’re to give the day after tomorrow. She promised to help you rehearse, and now she’s a no-show. You call her three times but can’t reach her. She sends you a text message saying she’s sorry that she won’t be able to make it. You pack up your things furiously and go home. You’re home but still upset, so you send her a voice note. You don’t bother hiding how upset you are. She won’t tell you, but she has broken down. Right then, as she was sending you that message, she was crying her eyes out and groaning in her palms, holding her head. She is tired and wants to give up. She can’t take it anymore but doesn’t feel like anyone would understand her even if she tried to explain how she’s feeling. Just as she was getting ready to meet you, a failed project worth 50% of her grade tipped her right over the edge. She lost track of time, and she definitely couldn’t meet you in that state. She didn’t mean to let you down.

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always. – Brad Meltzer

You had a bad start to your day; the previous day may have contributed to it. Yes, what they did isn’t justifiable, but it could be understandable and you could have responded kindly irrespective of how you felt. People hurt us, annoy us, maybe even disappoint us, and sometimes they most likely do not even have a justifiable reason, but I’m starting to learn to just give others the benefit of the doubt. Yes, I’m sad, but they just might be too. I’m angry, but who says they aren’t too? I could be mourning, but what if they just lost someone too? You respond better to the actions of others when you just decide to tell yourself that you will always be kind because you never know what others may be going through. You are the light in that very dark moment, and that is something that they will cherish for the rest of their life. Give someone a smile today; offer a helping hand; or say something nice. It seems like the world could be just a little bit brighter that way.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle – Plato

Omoyemen Aisuodionoe-Shadrach