By Loren Negron

When I reflect on the past decade, I am reminded of the many inspiring moments I experienced. Those moments were grounded on empathy, compassion, kindness, patience and understanding. More importantly, they were built on a bedrock of generosity.

Generosity, for me, means to offer parts of ourselves to others to help imbue a spirit of strength and empowerment in the world around us. Generosity is not limited to volunteering endeavors or financial contributions. Generosity can be practiced in many ways.

My step-grandfather showed me that generosity means being willing to listen to others. The afternoon conversations I had with him are precious moments I cherish. When I came home from school, he would be on his chair with a sci fi-fantasy book in his hand. He would peer up at me as I walked toward him. My step-grandfather would ask me how my day went. He did this almost every single day. I remember those afternoons vividly because of how deeply he listened to my words. He listened not only with his ears, but with his eyes as well. It showed in the way he looked at me. His blue eyes focused on me with so much love and compassion.

During those moments, I learned that listening is a humbling act. It takes a lot to control our emotions and thoughts to give space for another person to speak their truths. It takes bravery and vulnerability to just sit beside someone and listen. When we listen to others, we are not only showing support for them, but we are also empowering them to embrace their stories and experiences.

In addition, generosity means sharing our strength with others. A friend of mine, Andrew, showed me this valuable lesson last semester. He stayed with me during challenging circumstances and reminded me that I was not alone. Through my friendship with him, I was reminded that every single one of us is fighting a battle. We should take the time to extend our hands, to embrace each other and to love one another. Rather than hiding our battles, we should help each other climb our mountains. We are not meant to live in isolation; we are meant to live with hope and love, empowering one another.

Moreover, generosity also means being generous to ourselves. Generous means giving ourselves opportunities to breathe, to silence the world’s noise and to nurture our voices. It means watering the seeds of power that are growing in each of our hearts. When we talk about generosity, we tend to focus on other people; however, we also have to remember to be generous to ourselves. This also means that we have to respect our boundaries and be strong advocates of ourselves.

Generosity is a gift both to ourselves and others. I am grateful this past decade has taught me many ways to practice and nurture this trait. As I continue to grow and find my grounding in this world, I am excited to see this trait reflected in me and in the world around me.