“ANA, THANKS TO YOU, MY FAITH IN HUMANITY HAS BEEN RESTORED.” the words blinked on my screen in half a second, the immature capslocked typing of a Japanese animation fanboy actually spelling out something meaningful. I was completely shocked from the phrase my online friend decided to share in the midst of our rather silly discussion.
“AW, THANK YOU. BUT I DON’T MAKE THAT MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE. I’M JUST MYSELF,” I responded.
“YOU’RE AMAZING,” he insisted.
At the time I didn’t believe him. After all, he was an online friend; how could I make a difference in a life of a guy I didn’t personally know? Phrases like that were meant for famous people, people who sacrifice money to make a difference. Not for a teenaged, self-acclaimed artist who likes to sit and make stories all day. The only thing I had been doing was giving him pointers on drawing, encouraging him that he would improve, and taking the time to share with him my beliefs that people could do anything they set their minds to. We were friends, and although we were net friends, that didn’t mean I’d treat him any differently than one of my real life friends. Except for the fact I didn’t believe him when he said I influenced his life somehow, but at the time I didn’t know what he had been through.
Jin, I’ll call him, had faced pressure in many forms throughout his life. He and his family had moved from South Korea to Canada in hopes of a better life, but unfortunately only found more trials. His parents wanted him to become a doctor, so they enforced classes he didn’t want to take. He didn’t tell him that he didn’t want to be a doctor, they already knew, and it didn’t matter. Each day he had to face much racism, from hearing people tell him that it was his fault they didn’t have a job to feeling a drunken man’s fists against his face just because he was Korean. Eventually, Jin came to the conclusion that people were selfish and heartless, and that what he had in mind didn’t matter to the world. It didn’t matter that he wanted to share messages through storytelling and art, that wasn’t his place. The world hated him anyway, there was no way anyone would listen to him.
I had been helping him gain faith in himself and his own, hidden goals without knowing it. Telling him that his stories were genius and that his art was improving meant so much to him. He was finally being recognized for the impossible. I had no idea.
It is my belief now that the simple things count. Whether they are kind words or a small gesture of appreciation, positivity radiates from me into the person I’m directing my actions towards. Unfortunately, this works for negativity as well. What message am I going to spread to the world today? The world is continually listening; whether I like it or not.