No, this staff note is not an overdue response to Burger King’s Women’s Day tweet. Nor is it an impassioned defense of outdated gender norms. Instead, consider it an ode to a simple phrase we’ve all heard hundreds of times before.

Everyone has been told at some point that “actions speak louder than words.” Back in kindergarten, this mantra taught me how to apologize to my sister after a fight or to better understand the boy who relentlessly teased me during recess. Nowadays, it’s the basis for my closest relationships.

I’ve become more reserved as I’ve gotten older, so saying exactly what’s on my mind isn’t as easy as it once was. While many people express their gratitude and love with words, I find it much easier done than said.

Making a group grocery run, editing a classmate’s essay, driving home a license-less friend or crafting an elaborate birthday cake. Regardless of what I do, going out of my way to make someone’s day the tiniest bit happier brings me closer to those I care about. Not to mention, it never fails to brighten my day.

Cooking, specifically, has always bonded me with my loved ones in a way that transcends culture and identity. Some of my fondest memories are of helping my mother prepare our routine family dinners, playing the role of my grandmother’s sous-chef for the most special holiday meals, making obligatory post-sleepover pancakes on my high school weekends and playing “Chopped” at home against my best friend when we were little.

Though no one is forcing me to be there, I have always felt most at home in the kitchen. A recipe book and a pristine kitchen that I can dirty to my heart’s content foster as much excitement in me as some find in front of a fresh canvas, a blank page or an eager audience. I find a great sense of belonging in a place where I can take full control over how creative, sweet, or garlic-y my creation will be – or admire others as they do the same.

The feeling of accomplishment after making anything from scratch radiates a unique joy that is better off shared. Cooking for other people feels far more fulfilling than cooking for myself – watching someone’s face light up as they take that first bite is just as satisfying to me as making each measurement precise down to the drop.

As selfishly as I’ll spend hours preparing one simple dish, I never mind when it’s gone minutes after being served. Food is my expression of love, and a quick consumption of whatever I make is one of the greatest compliments to me. “A labor of love,” as my mom always says, is all the more worthwhile when others get to love it too.

Doing things that you love – regardless of how simple or complex they may be – shows you new ways to love others. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but like I mentioned, it’s often easier done than said. Hug other people because it brings you just as much joy; walk a friend home because you feel more energized in the fresh air; share that family dish because it is always made with love; challenge yourself to learn that song because you know it’s your friend’s favorite.

With a full glass, it’s much easier to pour more out to those around you. It’s just a matter of finding where you fill your glass. For me, that’s often in the kitchen. (Note: dorm kitchens do not count.)—Anna Rebello, staff writer

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