In all honesty, I’d do away with paper currency completely if I had the choice. However, I don’t have that choice so I spend my money on what really matters.
While I’m fortunate to have parents who provide me with all of my needs, I don’t always get what I desire. Therefore, I learned about the value of money before I learned about the price tag. I don’t like to waste money on things I don’t really need and I’d much rather spend it on someone in need than to temporarily satisfy myself.
Disclaimer: The goal of this post is NOT to make myself look like a generous Saint or to convert you guys into one. I simply wish to share the joy of paying it forward. That being said, if you do feel especially moved by this post, let me know in the comments below!
I still remember the day my AP Spanish teacher broke down crying in front of us upon explaining that she planned to visit a violently ill relative in New York. Most of the other students exchanged quizzical glances mouthing she’d completely lost it this time. I sat in silence staring at her, running through my mind what I learned in training to be a hospice volunteer.
‘Caregivers face a lot of stress having to deal with their personal lives on top of caring for their loved one. Helping them out even in the smallest of ways often relieves a lot of that stress.’ My gaze refocused on the cup of Starbucks that rested next to my teacher’s MacBook. I knew exactly what I had to do.
As soon as I got home, I logged onto Starbucks’ website and sent her an e-gift card with a message, written in Spanish, reminding her to keep her head up and that things would get better.
This may not sound like a big deal, but I figured the last thing my teacher should have to worry about was paying for another cup of coffee to stay awake with her relative. A few weeks later, I also asked the principal for a teacher’s aide for her seeing how overworked and stressed out she became. I never knew that I could make such a big impact in someone’s life with just a few minutes of my time.
Last December, I wrote an article about traditional Catholic traditions for Christmas for my high school newspaper. It was eye-opening in many ways but one experience stood out to me in particular.
A friend of mine whom I didn’t know too well happened to be Catholic, and I was running out of Catholic students to interview, so I figured I’d interview her. She was every uncomfortable at first, I could see it the way she sat huddled up giving glossed-over answers that conveyed nothing about her.
Eventually, she gave up and admitted what she was doing sighing that she should have just taken some notes about her traditions and given those to me. I insisted that I wanted to represent the Catholic students because their voices often go unheard and I’d practically be lying if I quoted her on anything she previously said.
She mumbled her agreement then spent the rest of lunch pouring her heart out to me in a way that I’ve never seen her do in any way before. She was a notoriously detached person who rarely spoke at all and, suddenly, I knew her family’s inside jokes.
I was so touched that I burned to give her something, anything, to express my gratitude for her honesty. I knew she loved dark chocolate so I gave her a few of my treasured Whole Foods bought dark chocolate bars. From then on, our friendship only became stronger.
Then there was the homeless woman with her daughter in a stroller that my brother and I encountered upon walking out of Target. At first, we passed by her thinking our measly change wouldn’t be enough for her. But then we stopped and re-considered her plight: we had spare change but she could have no change. We marched back to her and gave her every penny we had left over. She said, “God bless you” and I echoed the sentiment.
I truly believe the joy of giving back whatever one can is stronger than the joy of taking whatever one can get.