Experience That Influenced Me the Most

As Rachel Ingber once said, "A name represents identity, a deep feeling and holds tremendous significance to its owner." This quote is one of the many reasons I was so overwhelmed with honor and awe when my 1st-grade teacher, Ms. Spillman, informed me that when she gave birth to her daughter in four months, she would be naming her after me. All throughout preschool and the beginning of kindergarten, I was very closed off and shy to the extent that my teachers diagnosed me with selective mutism. I had moved all the way from London so the new environment combined with starting a new school was enough to scare me silent. So when Ms. Spillman approached me in the school cafeteria and shared the news with me, I was provided with the confidence I very much needed to find my place and branch out.

I remember enjoying my lunch with a few classmates while inhaling the toxic fumes of my elementary school cafeteria when my teacher, Ms. Spillman, called me over, telling me she needed to talk to me. Being the goody two shoes I was, butterflies immediately began wrestling in my stomach, as I thought I was in trouble. I trudged over to her in my heavy winter boots and wiped my sweaty palms across my hoodie. Ms. Spillman greeted me with a warm smile and asked me if I was aware she was going to be giving birth to her daughter in four months. Confused at first, I questioned the relevance of her asking me this. After I considered the question, I wiped the puzzled look off of my face and gave her a soft, "No". Her smile grew wider as she took my hands in hers and gave them a little squeeze.

"I thought I should let you know that when I give birth to my daughter in June, I'm going to be naming her after you," she told me, as she eagerly waited for a reply.My expression went from confused, stunned, to delighted. I couldn't believe the great news, and I was beyond honored."I loved having you in my class this year and seeing your growth," she explained. "I want my daughter to grow up having an inspiring, well-rounded, confident role model. In my opinion, names mean a lot, so I'd like her to not only have a beautiful name but someone beautiful to be named after."

I was overwhelmed with honor and delight and I recall thanking her as she wrapped me in a hug, greeting me with the sweet smell of cinnamon. I rushed back to my lunch table and shared the incredible news with my classmates. They shrugged and returned back to their lunches. I couldn't believe it! How could they not care? Names mean the world to me on top of the fact that someone had finally seen past my shy exterior and seen that I was truly a confident, kind person. I continued the next four months feeling better than ever. Not only was I finally able to make new friends, that also happen to be my best friends to this day, I was also able to speak up in class and let people know I was more than the shy, introverted girl everyone thought I was. It wasn't until a year later when I held Jaya Spillman's little hands and looked into her deep brown eyes that I realized how much she had truly impacted me.

This is a seminal event for me because this was one of the first moments in my life I felt pure happiness as well as courage. It was the primary event in my life that turned me from the shy, anxious girl who wouldn't speak in class to the girl that I am today. This event has influenced me so much that I even think about it in recent times when I'm feeling upset or worthless. It never fails to make me so honored that someone saw the good in me to the extent that they named their child after me. This event has taught me that one simple act of kindness can completely change someone's life, whether you are aware of it or not.


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