Written by TRP guest blogger Alex West
“How kind am I to others?”
As I get older and wiser, I treat this question with great respect- it has layers. There are many interpretations so- I’m not just speaking of being kind with simple manners, I’m referring to the essence of kindness.
Do I extend myself outwards, and greet everyone openly? Without judgement? Do I include those who have brought value to my life in ways small or large in my social life- or am I prejudiced and exclusive in my associations? Am I considerate of another’s feelings, and am I genuinely honest with others? Am I accountable for who I am as a friend, as a human being? Am I accountable for my actions and choices as they relate to others?
I pay close attention to how I treat others- especially now, and I strive to treat others as I would wish to be treated. These values were learned the hard way. I have been on the receiving end of unkindness from others- we all have, and the memory of what it feels like is not easily forgotten, in fact- it becomes a lesson in how I want others to feel when they are around me.
Personally, my life shifted so greatly after divorce, I was not prepared for the circumstantial ripple effect it would have for myself, and my son. There is so much change and much to mourn: the loss of a partner, the wifestyle, the additional children I might wish for that may not come, and the new circumstance I have been presented with socially, economically, and emotionally. In the midst of these major changes, my challenge is to continue forward with a new and uncertain map of my life happiness for my child and for myself. Divorce has dramatically impacted my support system, making it so much more important to be able to lean on the support of those who surround me- especially those I consider my friends.
Fortunately, this time has taught hard lessons of setting new standards of how I define everyday words like “support” and “friends”. I’ve acquired a new appreciation for those who are honest with me and appreciate those who treat me with dignity and respect, and I now find myself cheering for friends who remember that a family is still a family, even if it is a different shape or size, and that I am still me- regardless of how my life looks.
By far, the greatest gift given, with such unforeseen change, is how heightened my sensitivities are now of how I treat others.
Divorce, new babies, working, STAH moms…it does not matter, at some point every woman has felt either discarded, snubbed, or overwhelmed among her peers as she desperately tries to map out her life, and in these times we are all reminded of how kindness equals thoughtfulness. Kindness= HUMANITY.
So here it is ladies, we may not say it out loud, but we have all been privy to and/or guilty of; quietly ignoring, deflecting, or not extending at some point in our lives and in our associations or friendships.
Congeniality should not be subjective, and age-old quotes like, “Girls can be so mean.” should be buried far beneath quotes like, “Support your peers and cherish your friends.” As springtime is upon us, budding up new life and fresh air, so is the gift of change. We should all remember to be considerate of each other, support our fellow peers, and be honest with ourselves. Communities come in many forms; one of my most cherished community is my peer group of women, mothers, and friends. A community I wish to be included in, regardless of my circumstances.
My message to myself and to others about kindness is: to extend outwards – whether I feel lonely and fractured, or happy and whole. If I reach outside of myself I can create a bridge; and if I turn away – only a gap, a gulf, or a void.