I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness lately, as noted on Twitter:
I live in a city where kindness occurs in startling spurts, where you can’t count on it when you most expect it. Maybe that’s just city living, or maybe it’s Boston living, but when kindness happens it makes the white space of mean shrink, and I wonder why my focus had been there in the first place.
I can snark with the best of them. I can quickly find one or two words that, when delivered with just the right eyebrow raise and glance in someone’s direction, can be insulting and hilarious. I can look down my nose to protect my own fear and guilt as well as any Real Housewife.
After a while, though, it doesn’t feel good. I start hearing that inner voice, quick with a judgment-filled joke, directed at myself. And unlike kindness, when I dole it out to strangers it never makes my shoulders feel less burdened nor puts a bounce in my step.
I worry that kindness will be seen as weakness. Naivety. It’s kindness I blame for my inability to say no, or to avoid the “shoulds.” I know my kindness is taken advantage of, and when it is my immediate reaction is the same as it was in middle school – show ‘em they’re messing with the wrong girl. Get twice as mean and do it twice as fast.
But I’m not in middle school and acting like I am is tiring and wasteful. So I’ll continue to focus on being kind. I’ll be the one on the bus who stands for the nurse, because nurses spend 18 hours on their feet saving lives and “I’m tired after sitting at my desk” doesn’t trump that. I’ll smile at strangers who make eye contact. I’ll say “please” and “thank you” to people of all ages because it’s the right thing to do. I’ll make introductions and connect people who can help each other because it feels good to do that.
And the tigers ready to pounce? The cats who use their sharp teeth and claws to tear down others because they are too scared of their own inabilities and insecurities to get where I am with hard work and ingenuity?
I’ll kill ‘em with kindness.
Who do you know who’s kind? What makes them so? What acts of kindness mean the most to you?