Yesterday my best friend said to me, “You’re such a good friend. You’re a good person.” I know it might sound weird to say, but that’s pretty much best compliment a person could give me.
I haven’t always been the best version of myself or the person that my friends know. I’ve done an exorbitant amount of growing up, something I both wanted and was forced to do after I burned nearly every bridge from my childhood. So it’s actually really good to hear that I’ve changed for the better, that I’ve done right by the people that I care about, even if it took me a long time to get here.
I still make mistakes. I still lose patience with people. I still bite down snarky retorts that no one has asked for. But I try not to gossip with anyone other than my mother, to pay attention when people come to me for comfort or advice, to not to let my old habits resurface.
The person I was ten years ago would never have received a compliment like that. Ten years ago I had few (if any) real friends and more contempt for the world than any teenager ought to have had for someone in a life as sheltered as mine. I thought I deserved the world’s respect without putting in the work and so it was my own fault that I was alone.
I want the people that I care about to feel loved. I want them to know that I respect them and support them. I try to show them in my words and actions, by checking in, listening, and giving them one on one time. And the more I give, the more dividends (of love and respect) I receive in kind.
In a lot of ways I am the reflection of the people around me. I am good because I have good people in my life. But it’s also a conscious choice that I make. Being a good person isn’t always the easy thing to do. It means sometimes putting other people first, it means not letting your pride get the best of you (even when you feel you’re in the right), it means being vulnerable.
But I’m happier than I’ve ever been. And that’s really all there is to it.