Every year the Cheetos Club says goodbye to our seniors by hearing their perspective on a topic related to kindness. This year we have asked them to reflect on where kindness comes from and why they choose to value it in their lives. We will be sharing their perspectives in a series of blogs.
Growing up, there were a few different circumstances that forced me to grow up quicker than most. A lot of these things I dealt with alone, because they didn’t exactly fit the type of conversations you would have at the lunch table with your elementary school friends. This got me into a cycle, where I would internalize. If I tried to talk, it just didn’t seem like people would get it. So, I learned to bottle it up. Something many of us fall victim to at some point in our lives. My biggest coping mechanism was helping others, because in my mind I thought that even though I couldn’t figure out how to help myself, I could ensure that nobody I knew of ever felt the way that I had felt. I knew how what it was like to go through things alone, and not feel understood, which in turn made me want to ensure that everyone around me felt all the love I could possibly give, no matter what. Which as you may imagine, that idea kind of crashed and burned. Because I realized that not everyone is going to have the same intentions for me as I may have for them. And while it is important to always be kind, sometimes certain people aren’t meant to be in your life, and in those situations, it is more important to choose to be kind to yourself.
I was battling all these different feelings and I would blame myself for others mistreating me. Through these experiences, I realized the exact type of person I didn’t want to be. The one thing that kept me going, and something I still say to myself today, is “Once I get through this, I can help others through it too.” Which is a change of thinking from how I thought before, because I realized that I can help so many more people, if I’m able to give the same love I give to others, to myself too.
For so many years I had thrown myself into helping others, that I didn’t even realize I wasn’t okay myself, until I learned what it felt like to be okay. Soon after, I grew an even stronger love for those around me, but this time I was able to do it right. I had boundaries to ensure that I was still able to care for myself, and care for others as well. Through this process, I learned that it’s important to never judge or jump to conclusions about people. Because people are a product of how they’ve been treated, and we all process our demons in different ways. That is not to excuse others’ bad behaviors, but just important to remember. There will come a time in your life, probably more than once unfortunately, where someone will mistreat you. It may seem impossible to understand how anyone could ever treat you that way, especially if you care for them. But, understand that someone mistreating you is never your fault, rather it’s a product of their own issues coming afloat.
I am kind because I’ve been hurt by others, and instead of that turning me bitter, it inspired me to become better. To be the person that I so desperately wanted when I was going through hard times, for others. I am kind to myself, because I know that I deserve love and respect, as everyone reading this, and everyone who isn’t, does too. I am kind, because I have learned the best way to bounce back from having a really bad day, or a lot of really bad days, is to treat the world better than it has treated you.