When I was about 14 years old I found a dress in my mother’s closet. It was navy blue, sleeveless, silky and had brown leaves on it. I remember putting on the dress and admiring it in the mirror. I loved that dress. I loved the way it made me feel older. It took me outside of those difficult and awkward teenage years to a new place, much farther away. Yet I never wore it outside the safe walls of my bedroom. I didn’t wear it out, not because my mum wouldn’t let me but because I feared what people would say or who would laugh. Being a teenager is tough. Every haircut, every new item of clothing, every new pair of shoes, every packed lunch… every little thing is being judged, criticized and evaluated by your peers.
The good news is that all of that hard stuff, all of that judgement, it all ends as soon as the teenage years have passed….. at least that’s what I dreamed when I put on that navy blue dress. If only that were the truth, maybe then it would make those tough teenage moments that little bit easier, that little bit more hopeful. The truth is, being an adult is tough too. There are people out there who want to pick you apart, watch you fail and beat you down until you don’t think you can go any lower.
That unkindness isn’t just found in the school yard, or in the office, but in the comfort of our homes, on our laptop screens and right in the palm of our hands. People are teasing teenagers, shaming mothers, judging you, judging me. Bullying people, most of whom they have never met and never will meet.
The good news is, that behind those screens, in the halls of those schools, on the street, in the parks, all around us, you can also find kindness. The sort of kindness that makes you tear up, gives you goosebumps and reminds you that there really is so much good in the world, even if it isn’t always easy to find.
The world has been dishing out some very scary, very sad realities lately. Events that can make even the most optimistic of us lose sight of the kindness and the love. But it is times like these that we need to search even harder and work even harder to find it and spread it. Spread kindness to your neighbours, your friends, your family, your students, your teachers, the stranger at the bus stop, the mother in the grocery store, the kid crying in the playground, or the teen sitting by themselves in the lunch room. Spread kindness in person, in messages, in gestures, in smiles and in hugs. In the past few weeks I have had a couple of old friends come out of no where and do things for me that they didn’t need to do… some pretty awesome things. They didn’t do it to be thanked or praised. They just did it to be kind and because they thought of me. And believe me, whether they fully realize just how much, they truly made a difference.
Earlier this week, after watching yet another tough news story roll in, I said to my husband, “I wish people would just be kinder to each other.” and he responded that it isn’t that easy, that unkindness surrounds us and sadly, it isn’t going anywhere. Unfortunately, he is right, unkindness does surround us, but it doesn’t mean kindness can’t win and that love can’t win, but it takes us to make that choice. So when you wake up tomorrow morning, whether you wake up with a smile already on your face or you’re dragging yourself out of bed to yet another day of work, and maybe you’re frustrated because there is too much traffic, or someone pushed in front of you in line, and you just want to scream….. Stop. Breath.
Choose kindness. Choose love.
We got this.