Dear Cheetos Friends,

I’ve written and rewritten this letter three times now, tumbling ideas over and over in my brain, searching for the perfect words to say goodbye, good luck, good job. But time and time again I’m left with a sterile white page and a blinking, taunting cursor. I’ve been trying to think of what I can leave you with, what would be helpful, what matters to me. In the end, three things keep bobbing to the surface, so what else can I do but let them fall out onto the page. Here are three things I know for sure about kindness.

Number One: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. Sorry. It never has been, it never will be. It often  feels like it should be, but if you want to truly be kind, it can’t be. It’s so tempting to take credit for our kindness, to want and accept accolades and congratulations. It’s great when others recognize our actions to be good and right, but that can’t be why we do it. The whole point of kindness is in looking past yourself and doing something for the sake of someone else. And if everyone buys into this mentality, then there’s someone looking out for you, too. When we move past the notion of our high and mighty self interest, we all look out for each other. Everyone  benefits when our idea of “everyone” shifts from who we want it to be.

Number Two: Kindness is not one size fits all. You simply won’t find it in the scarf and sunglass bin at Old Navy. Because people are different, kindness is different. Some people want advice in hard times, someone to listen and allow them to open up, someone to ask and help and solve. Some people just need someone to offer a shoulder to cry on. No words, no fixes, just the presence of someone else who cares, truly cares. The golden rule is great, but sometimes you shouldn’t treat others the way you would want to be treated, but rather treat others the way they want to be treated. People are different, and that’s okay. So sometimes kindness will look different, and that’s okay too.

Number Three: It matters. It matters. It matters. The tough thing is it will feel like it doesn’t sometimes, because kindness isn’t easy and it’s rarely recognized by others. But just trust me on this one. Every smile, every birthday bag, every “good morning” and “hello” matter in the long run. Sometimes people won’t respond to kindness, but please don’t let that discourage you, because there is no such thing as a failed act of kindness. They add up, and they matter. Sometimes people around won’t notice, but to that one person, it meant the world. Sometimes it won’t matter to that one person, but to an onlooker, it made their day. The tricky thing is that it’s hard to tell, but in moments of doubt, remember that it really, truly does.

I leave you with a challenge: ask someone how they’re doing. Seriously. Ask a coworker, a best friend, a neighbor, a stranger. And please don’t settle for “fine” or “good”. Really ask, really care, be genuine. Why? Because it’s what Spencer Tibbits would do. And I guess there’s a fourth thing I know for sure: we need more people like Spencer.


Madeline Frey