There are some people who exist in this world who seem to radiate positive energy 24/7. Kelsie-Blake Weeks is one of those people. She and I shared a class together here at the College of Charleston, and it didn't take long to realize that Kelsie was someone very special. In order to realize that, a person needs to look no further than her own hyphenated first name.
Kelsie's mom did what most mom's do, find clever ways to name their kids. My mom did it with me, replaced "e" with "i" in my middle name Alijandro; my wife did it with our kids, all four have my initials; and Kelsie's full first name is Kelsie-Blake. According to Kelsie, her mom's sole explanation behind the hyphenated first name was that 1) mom liked the idea of two first names, and 2) mom was a fan of the hyphen. Well, for me that's all the explanation I need. One little piece of information behind what makes Kelsie unique. Thanks, Mom!
As I stated earlier, Kelsie-Blake and I were in a class together a couple of semesters ago, and it became apparent pretty quick that there was something special about her. Her infectious smile and southern charm made her easy to work with in group assignments, and even more interesting is how she seemed to go out of her way to be friendly to everyone. A trait not typically seen anywhere now-a-days. Of course, in a project where its purpose is to prove the world is brighter than some may think, Kelsie-Blake was one of the first people I could think of to make that point for anyone reading this story right now.
I sat down with Kelsie to see if I could learn where the source of all this positive energy came from. She explained that a lot of it was based in her Christianity faith. She shared a few "go-to" scriptures that provide her her moral compass, but, essentially, her bottom line is that she is just trying to "love thy neighbor." She confessed, however, that she was not always that way. In fact, Kelsie shared something next about her personality that was quite fascinating.
Kelsie-Blake explained that, in high school, she had a circle of friends where gossip was a big part of most conversations. And, Kelsie admits, she played a role in encouraging those behaviors. Despite the fact that, personally, the negativity created by the gossip made her uncomfortable. So, she decided to try and do something about it.
In her senior year, she made the choice to turn every negative encounter on its ear by flipping it with a positive comment. For example, if someone would say, "did you see what 'so-and-so' was wearing?" Anticipating the direction the conversation was headed, Kelsie would respond with something like, "yeah, I really liked her shoes!"
She exercised this strategy the entire school year, and in her own enthusiastic words, "I felt so much better!" She believes her little social experiment taught her that by her choosing to be positive when confronted with negativity, she molded herself into being more aware of other people's feelings, and how the smallest gestures can make the biggest impacts. Kelsie says, "people will always remember how you make them feel." She encourages everyone to try what she did, but she also cautions that you might lose some friends over it. The friends you get in place of the one's you lost, however, will be well worth it, though.
I can only hope that some of you get a chance to meet Kelsie-Blake, so that you can experience for yourself what I got to be around for a semester. She's person who always had a compliment ready, someone who seemed to leap at any opportunity to share words of encouragement, and a young lady whose spirit radiates the kind of goodness that could only make everyone around her better. Yep, Kelsie-Blake is definitely a bright light in a tough world. I feel lucky to have met her, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds as she pursues a degree with the College of Charleston.