Compassion was never something I practiced growing up. It wasn't until I was older that I started to realize I lived in a big world full of suffering people. Compassion, to me, is a desire to relieve the suffering of another and not be afraid to suffer with that person. As Milan Kundera once said "for there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one's own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes". Compassion is a useful skill that can ultimately help achieve inner peace.
One of my first experiences learning about compassion occurred in high school when my friend was bullied by a group of girls we were friends with. Everyone began to ostracize her and ridicule her in front of others. This alienation made her very insecure and depressed and even led to suicidal thoughts. I knew I wanted to be there for her when everyone else had turned their back on her, regardless of what others would think of me. I felt she needed help, and was never afraid to just listen to her cry or make her laugh to help her forget. The experience helped me realize how much someone can affect another, and having a little compassion can save someone's life.
I wasn't raised by people who emphasized the importance of helping others or showing compassion. When my family saw a homeless person they assumed that individual was lazy, even if that wasn't the case. I began helping my aunt feed the homeless, and saw how grateful those people were for our efforts. For once, I had the opportunity to help others, but in turn I was the one who felt truly blessed to finally understand what it means to be compassionate. I witnessed people who were down on their luck in their most painful moments of complete despair, and it made me realize how much we can do to help. Feeding the homeless wasn't just providing a meal, it was making them feel like someone cared for them and sympathized with their situation, and that's what compassion means to me. It made me see that one shouldn't overlook the significance of a kind smile or a helping hand, because an act this small can have the power to turn someone's life around.