Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kindness

Photo: Cassie Ngo
I got this tattoo almost ten years ago, I think. It's gotten harder to read over the years, and I should probably get it touched-up, but it says It takes strength to be gentle and kind. It's a line from the Smiths' song, "I Know It's Over," and regardless of what the rest of the song means, I liked it enough out of context to get it tattooed on my arm, as a daily reminder to myself.

I try to err on the side of kindness whenever I possibly can. (Maybe there's a little Hufflepuff in me after all, I dunno.) I choose kindness whenever I can, sometimes even to my own emotional detriment. I also internalize criticism and blame myself first, rather than unleash on other people. Maybe if I take the brunt of the hurt, then other people won't have to.

I know there are lots of people out there who would not do the same. They will protect their own self-interests and mental images, tooth and nail, and I understand that instinct. They might say that I'm weak, a soft touch, a "bleeding heart."

My heart may bleed, but I can take it. I'm not afraid of my emotions. And I am fortunate (privileged) enough to have access to the space/resources/time that I need for self-care. (I understand that not everyone does.) I'm not weak for caring. I'm not weak for loving. I'm not "soft" because I try to treat others gently when they need me to.

Never, ever mistake someone's kindness for weakness. It's easy as breathing to be apathetic; it takes energy and effort to be hateful; but it takes strength to be gentle and kind.

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