Who am I? Who do I want to be? What impact do I want have on others? I’ve spent a lot of time alone recently, isolating myself to gain more clarity on these things. I’ve sat back and observed. Observed the world around me as well as the people around me. The more I watched others, and the more I thought things through, the more I realized who I want to be as a person. Over the last year I have presented myself to the world as someone who doesn’t care. Doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Doesn’t care who I have to cut off or block to get to where I need to be. Someone whose feelings can not be easily hurt. Someone who puts herself and her needs before anyone else’s. And while I might possess some of these qualities they aren’t really who I am, or who I want to be, even. I’ve noticed that I present myself to the world as this unforgiving, tolerate no disrespect girl, because thats what my generation and social media has told me to do. My generation has taught me that it is better to be cold & unwilling to listen than it is to be open to someone. It is better to have no feelings at all than it is to have them, and run the risk of getting them hurt. No feelings is equivalent to safety & security. Kindness & grace are seen as weakness. For a very long time, I believed this. I stood by it. I did it. “If I don’t have feelings how will they ever get hurt? They won’t, so no feelings it is.” I took advantage of those who cared for me because I knew I could. I didn’t consider others feelings because they didn’t matter, all that mattered was me, myself, and I. My goals, my path, my feelings.
It makes me sad and embarrassed all at once that I believed this for so long. Even more sad that I’m not the only one. Even more embarrassed to have let the outside world and social media trick me into thinking that being mean and moving with only myself in mind is the better route. As I sat here this week and sorted through my mind and talked with my people I posed the questions; what do we really have to lose from being kind? Do I really have to pretend my entire life that I don’t care when deep down I do? Is it really that bad to have empathy for people? Is it really necessary to pretend like we don’t have feelings? Is it really better to be closed off and cold than it is to open yourself up to others?… is it?
If I tried to tell you that I am always kind…I would be lying. There are moments when I am the exact opposite. It seems like this whole year for me was a “moment.” For a long time I thought that treating people the way they treated me was the best way to go about things. You want to be mean? Let’s. You want to play games? Let’s. You want act like you don’t care? Let’s. You want to hurt feelings? Please.. LET’S. For a while it worked, treating people exactly how they treated me (& sometimes even worse) was empowering. Until it wasn’t. Until I realized that wasn’t who I was. Treating others how they treat you is a slippery slope & really just creates a vicious cycle. A never ending one. A cycle I’m tired of being in. Treating people how they treat you can make you lose sight of who you are. Treating people how they treat you can make you become someone who you aren’t. So don’t treat people as bad as they are, treat them as good as you are.
I’m not at all saying that you have to be someone who lets people take advantage of you because you don’t, and you shouldn’t. You should set boundaries, you should walk away from things that are draining, or no longer serving you. But when you walk away, don’t do so hanging on to resentment, don’t be spiteful. Be better. Be kinder than the person or situation that was making you miserable. Walk away with grace, kindness, and forgiveness. Don’t allow these outside factors or experiences to turn you into something or someone you’re not. Always be better. Always be more understanding. Always be there for people. And please, please, please, always keep your heart. While you’re doing this don’t forget to be kind to yourself in the process.
I remember a few months ago I got so incredibly frustrated with my mom for not treating someone in our family how he was treating her. Why was she letting him talk to her like that? Why wasn’t she putting him in his place. We argued for a while and all she kept telling me was that that simply isn’t who she is. She had no desire to fight fire with fire. Instead, she was just better. She was kinder. I was so upset when we had this conversation, but I finally get it. It may have taken months for me to see, but I finally realize I absolutely agree with her. Always be better. Always be kinder. The irony in all of this is I spent a couple hours yesterday thinking this post through, thinking about how much better of a person I want to be, how much better I want to treat people. This morning when I opened my phone at 3am there was a screenshot of someones snap story, I looked at my phone and what I saw was my face staring back at me on the screen. The snap painted a picture that was meant to be hurtful & meant to make me feel small. Had I woken up to this text 6 months ago, I would’ve fought fire with fire. I would’ve engaged the game of let’s play, let’s hurt feelings. Today though, I’m saying nothing. I’m not acknowledging it. I am simply being better, being kinder, wishing them nothing but the very best. If I act the same way they do, that makes me no better, and I am.
Kindness isn’t always all smiles, and being a shoulder for someone to cry on. Sometimes kindness is having the tough conversations you don’t want to have. Sometimes kindness is being honest (with yourself & others). Sometimes kindness is letting people go when you know they deserve better than what you can give them. Sometimes kindness is simply walking away quietly from something that no longer is serving you.
At the end of the day I have decided that I am never going to feel badly for being nice, having feelings, or treating others better than they treated me regardless of what my generation says. I’m done being mean. I’m done pretending that I don’t care about others. I believe regardless of the circumstances when you put kindness out into the world you will always come out on top, it will always come back to you. Please don’t allow this world to trick you into thinking being hateful is better than showing others empathy and love because I promise it is not. Sometimes people need a little pick me up more than we know. More than they would ever admit. I know that I will never wake up one day and regret giving someone kindness, will you? I hope not.