Permission to Be Kind

New Friend: I’m just gonna be real with you…The first time I met you, I didn’t like you. There was no way someone like you would be so nice. It’s like sugar-free kind of sweetness you know? It’s sweet but fake…I just like…thought you were a faker. I mean you dress up to go down the street. It’s like…why do you care so much? You’re not that important… (laughs awkwardly).

Me: Yikes.

NF: But, after getting to know you, I realize it’s because you care about people who don’t deserve it. I mean, who haven’t proven that they deserve it.

S: How are they supposed to prove that? That they deserve to be cared for?

NF: By, I dunno. Doing things unconditionally for you. Without profit. Being nice, not expecting things in return.

S: Exactly.

You can imagine what an impact that ‘conversation’ had on me… But in order for me to convey my point (I promise that there is one), some back-story might be in order…

All my life, I’ve travelled, never sticking to anything. Eventually I got adjusted to the change-up so much that I almost had it down to a ritual. I started to love it. I could be anyone, see new people and have new experiences. Every few years.

Before I was out of my teens, my family had hiked up the social ladder, and in that process, I had seen more than a quarter of the globe and most of it’s people, in various strata of society. 

When I was barely a teenager, my family moved back to India temporarily. I was out of friends again. I was an alien again. 

That year, I met a girl who would end up becoming my best friend and teach me some of the most valuable lessons in kindness and empathy. She was welcoming to everyone, remembered people’s birthdays and made people feel special. She was everyone’s best friend. She was everyone’s confidant. And she valued all relationships equally.

You know what’s the best thing I learnt from her? (THE POINT!) 

The fact that everyone, essentially, deserves kindness, even if they never recognize it. Because even if you end your relationship with them on bad terms, if you did your best to appreciate that person, without intention to receive anything, they will eventually use that experience to empower themselves or others (for however brief a moment that may be).

 Most people are hard to understand, let alone love. But when you find the complexity in their story and the choices that brought them where they are, it’s often easy to empathize with them, even if they are villainous.

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to force yourself to be around toxic people! But if you happen to be around them, it may be a cool experience to see what made them who they are.

— ❤

Over several years, I have been lucky enough to become close friends with a handful of amazing individuals in my life (not to mention the family of badass individuals I grew up with). I’m talking about-totally amazing, high-performing individuals with integrity, character and (sometimes) da bling bling. These are people who break stereotypes and boundaries and honestly don’t give a care about what anyone thinks about them. They’re my own personal heroes. (And yes, they will be getting personal links to this blog because they should know how inspiring they are to me). 

People are constantly telling me how nice I am. And how they didn’t expect it. It makes me sad that somehow my exterior doesn’t represent my interior. At the end of the day, however, it’s an opportunity for me to learn something new. A new way of communication, a new form of behavior, a new way of thought. Every exchange that I have with people, somehow, always ends up enriching me (or sometimes makes a great blog topic lol). So give yourself the permission to be kind without the shackles of expectation and see how it works out… ❤ I’ll be right here cheering you on! ❤ Shilpa


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