I’ve been told in my life that I don’t have a lot of sympathies when it comes to people and I’m not fighting that statement. I just think I’m taken out of context. There was a time in my life that I did worry very much about how people took me, that I thought a lot about if I said this or if I did that how would I look? What would they say about me when I walked away? Would they want to be my friend? Or would I be good enough to want to be around? Would I be invited to their parties, their coffee dates, their adventures? There was a time in my life when I hid behind this stupid idea that I needed to live up to others’ expectations. If I’m being honest, I’m so glad that is no longer me. I am so relieved that at the end of the day I can go to sleep knowing that I gave it my best and if it wasn’t good enough for someone? It doesn’t matter. It was good enough for me. I understand how I can come off as standoffish, slightly aggressive if you take me a handful of times but if you know me? I will go to the ends of the earth for you. No questions ask. I just can’t do that for everyone. And if a perfect stranger doesn’t automatically get me, it’s OK. If they think maybe I’m a little rough around the edges, it’s all good. We don’t have to prove anything to each other. We just need to be kind.
I think there are different types of kindness in this world. I think we all express it differently. I find it beautiful the many ways we show each other respect. There is the very bubbly, high pitched, let-me-help-you type of kindness. It’s the kind that you want to hear when you are at a restaurant or at the post office or checking into a hotel. It’s the cheerleader kind who is so happy to be of service to you. There entire purpose is to be sure you are satisfied. Here’s the thing working so many years in customer service I understand that is forced for a lot of those people and those are the people that I have sympathy for. There’s another sort of kindness that is subtle, that doesn’t demand attention, that doesn’t brag, that maybe comes with a little bit of a bite but it is done with beautiful respect. It’s the kindness that treats you like a human and not a dummy. That’s more of the type of kindness that I show. I’m not a cheerleader. I’m not full of bubbles and I’m not going to stroke your ego just because you demand it. I will not apologize repeatedly for things that mean nothing at the end of the day but I will be kind about it. I get it. Life is full of disappointments from big ones to small ones but saying words just to say words don’t solve a problem. Did you get a damaged canvas? Yeah, that sucks but be an adult. Me apologizing for something completely out of my control isn’t going to fix that canvas but I can absolutely send you a new one. Isn’t that more effective then me saying words I don’t mean? And, sure, I get how that sounds like I’m being unsympathetic but put your life into perspective. Look at what goes on outside of yourself and understand your damaged canvas problem is a way better problem to have then what is going on outside your door.
We come from so many different places and come with so many different values. We don’t always understand those differences. I commend the people in this world that can shine so brightly and love to help the people around them with so much vigor. We need those kind of people. We need the cheerleaders and the soccer moms and the planners and all the shiny happy people because they bring something important to this very hard, dark place we call life… but we also need quiet kindness, too. We need the people who put a blanket on you when you fall asleep on the couch and then go on their way, the kind that does not want the recognition. There is something simple and lovely about being kind when no one sees it. I know that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I know that my patience for this world is really on a very short leash but please don’t confuse that with me not caring. It’s me wanting to show you respect, one human to another. I was taught we treat each other the way we want to be treated. I don’t want anyone to be anything but real to me so I don’t need the bubbles or the meaningless words or anything that is going to give me a false sense of myself. We need to learn to not judge each other so harshly, to understand that we give each other blankets in different ways and every way is beautiful as long as it comes from a place of kindness. So, do me a favor, next time you go to that coffee shop, give that kid behind the counter a break. If they don’t smile at you the way you want them to, don’t automatically think he is an asshole. Maybe he’s just not the cheerleader type and that subtle kindness is just as valuable.