Transformation Tuesday: What makes a person “a good person”?

I’m rich with references from the past. I kept all of my journals from adolescence and teenhood and it’s been a treat rediscovering my not-so-old self. Today I pulled out my old Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul journal and I realized a lot of whom I was has stayed with me. It’s refreshing to know. 

One of the prompts in the journal poses the question: 

What makes a person “a good person”? 

Here’s my 15-year-old self’s answer: 

Okay, so there you have it. I’d seen a lot at this point in my life. I’d just buried my 17-year-old friend who committed suicide and there were a lot of thoughts running through my head on a daily basis. 

Of course, there are some things I want to point out about my response:

  1. I tend to say at their own expense quite a bit in my responses. This is problematic because that was the theme of my adulthood for some time up until a few months ago, honestly. I’d developed this martyrdom that was really hard to shake after a while. It took me six years to finally be okay with being selfish in some instances. 
  2. Being so self-sacrificial was a mark of the point of my life that I was in. I was religiously devout to Islam and still situating my identity as a Black female teen in America; about three or four strikes against my conscious everyday I walked out the door. Over-compensation was a side effect of the pressure. Being obstinately “good” was a form of resistance in a world where I was tolerated and ostracized. My family had been through some things with homeland security because of our background. 
  3. A good person is someone who stands by his/her views even when challenged. I’m all for sticking to your guns, but even “good people” are wrong sometimes and being inflexible can turn a big heart into an ego hammock.
  4. A person who is comforting and reliable and, beyond everything else, honest even at their own expense. –Again, martyr syndrome. 

Considering the experiences I’d had leading up to these journal entries, I was traumatized and not fully processing everything that had happened that year. And a lot happened. That’s definitely for another post. 

What makes a person a “good person”?

I’d say:

A good person is someone who looks at themselves before anyone else. Someone who completely accepts others, even their flaws. Someone who is strong when confronted or challenged and accountable and  responsible when they are wrong. Someone who is comforting and reliable, and above everything else, honest. 

This may all change in ten years too… Ha!

What would you say makes a person a “good person”?


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