Renegade Adventure: Spreading words of kindness to strangers

Cristina Benavides, Reporter

We often forget that everyone we encounter in our life goes through struggles. We all have a story, and by spreading random acts of kindness you’re able to brighten someone’s day. That’s what I did on Sept. 17 in Downtown Bakersfield.

I knew I wanted to display some form of kindness to strangers, and that’s when I decided that I would give them personal messages from me to them. I took my time writing every single message to ensure that I was getting everything someone would want to hear in just a few sentences.

“I don’t know what you’re currently going through in your life, but I want to remind you that your life is important. You do deserve good things to happen to you, and your feelings do matter. Remember to not only spread love, but to practice self-love. I wish you the best on your journey.”

I typed these messages out and put them in envelopes that had the words “Spread Kindness” on the front. I decorated the envelopes with stickers that reminded me of happiness to make them look fun. All messages were different to remain genuine to everyone I met. I wrote words that I would love to hear, and in a way this process made me feel good reading them. This experience allowed me to practice telling myself positive things just by writing messages for other people.

I was surprised by the general reaction I received. Most people were appreciative, but some did seem to be skeptical at first. I do think that’s because some people do not normally receive kindness their way. Everyone has an opportunity to be kind to someone every day though, and I strongly encourage people to.

I passed out envelopes to locals, local business owners and workers. Most people I gave my messages to were male, but I did get some females to read my messages. One of the most impactful moments I had was with Eddy Lee who is a worker at Boss Pizza Company. He read my message aloud and told me that I had come to him at the right time, and my message was meaningful to him. Eddy also mentioned that he was going to share my message with someone in his personal life in hopes it would help them too. It is such a heartwarming experience to be able to positively impact a person’s life, even if you do not personally know them.

Another person I approached with my kind message was a valet at the Padre hotel named Patrick Lumpkin. He received it very positively and said that he does not see people doing what I was doing often in Bakersfield. Patrick seemed to be appreciative and even said if I ever wanted to write something on the Padre that I could contact him. He also said he was going to pass the message to the oncoming shift. That is another rewarding thing about deciding to do this random act of kindness, I never know who else will receive them. I told everyone they could either keep their messages for themselves or pass it on to someone who would love to hear those words.

I decided to spread kindness to strangers because I wanted to see how the public would react and I genuinely wanted to make people feel good. I thought my kindness would get rejected due to me being a stranger, but everyone I approached was mostly open to it. The way you approach someone when doing something like this should always be respectful and you should not shove kindness down their throats. Not everyone is going to feel comfortable when confronted by a stranger and that’s okay. I am glad I impacted lives positively and brought smiles to people’s faces. I even received a few hugs.

While at Dagny’s Coffee Company I found Matthew Dill who is a Media Graphic Arts teacher at Stockdale High School. After he read my message he hugged me and I was taken aback in a good way. I was just a stranger, but he felt compelled to hug me after my simple act of kindness. Reactions like that made me feel more confident about approaching people with my messages.

Even if I did not get a huge reaction from someone, I still made them feel good. The most important thing I learned from all of this is that we are all going through something in our lives, and by being kind to each other we might make things easier for us. Some people rarely hear a kind thing said to them. I am proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and spreading love and kindness in our city, and I would love to do this again with more people. You do not have to go to the extent that I went to because you already have the power to be kind within you.