Kindness in Practice: An Interview with a Texas Teen

March 23, 2017

Grace Hatfield, 17, lives in Houston, Texas, is a senior at St. Agnes Academy and will be attending University of Houston in the fall. She loves to sing, write poetry, and make weird clothing. She values kindness and honesty above all else. Grace’s favorite thing to do is spend time with her friends and family, and to play with her new puppy, Ava.

Alexis Covington is a student at St. Agnes Academy in Houston, Texas. I chose to interview her about her perspective on kindness because of her unique outlook on life. She has always been real, extremely candid, and open-minded. Her interview is individual, honest, and a representation of the reality of youth today.

GH: Tell me a bit about yourself.
AC: I’m 17, I have lived in Houston my entire life, but I have moved 14 times. I’m a Scorpio, I don’t like long walks on the beach because I don’t like sand, and I participate in mock trial, theater, and decorating the hallways (putting pictures of Guy Fieri everywhere).

GH: So you moved 14 times, was there anything that made that easier? Like a specific person or piece of advice?
I moved 14 times but it was never hard because of my mom. We’d lose things that I loved in the move or I’d be forced into a room situation I hated, but she reassured me, even if I had to share a room with Bryan or Colby (my siblings).

GH: How did you learn to be kind?
AC: I learned from my mom and my best friend. My mom is the kindest person ever and puts up with a lot of sarcasm from me and my family. She willingly would go across the world for me if I asked in a second…My best friend is constantly giving the best advice to her friends regardless of whether or not we want to hear it.

GH: What does kindness mean to you?
AC: Accepting what comes with a person, and even if you don’t like someone, don’t go after something they are particularly insecure about. Kindness does not mean liking everyone, but being basically respectful and decent to everyone. For instance, if someone has specific pronouns, respect that, or if they have a disorder, don’t go after that.

GH: I’m sure you’ve seen the kindness signs around school, what do you think of them? Do you believe in making kindness normal?
AC: Honestly putting up signs isn’t really helping, maybe it works subliminally, I don’t know, but they never really helped me. I do think we can make kindness normal, but it’s going to be extremely hard. I think talking about groups who aren’t treated kindly in a normal way and not acting as if they are to be pitied is a great place to start.

GH: What acts of kindness mean the most to you and how do they make you feel?
AC: Compliments. I always keep them in my heart like little treasures.

GH: How do you work to spread kindness in your school community?
AC: If someone tells me something, I respect it, you know? Secrets especially. One of the best ways to be kind is to be a confidant. I have a gossiping problem, so on that aspect…you know… I try not to actively take part in it, but I watch it go down, but I know that’s not kind. Be honest, it’s very important. There’s a few rules I live by on social media. One of them is never telling someone to kill themselves, even in a joking context. Also, don’t bully people, you can make fun of people as long as they are primarily making fun of themselves. Never take someone’s random photo and make fun of them, no exceptions.

GH: What advice would you have for those searching for kindness in their lives?
AC: Go to the theater, and embrace art. Find a girl that you don’t know and say, “Hey, you have pretty eyes and hair!” Just complement people.

(Interview edited for clarity and length.)