Kindness versus Self
I seem to frequently debate with others about “too much kindness”. I still stand by my argument that there is no such thing, but after a couple of rough months, I do see how I may have been slightly wrong (I’m not conceding; I am practicing other perspectives.)
The past few months, I have been struggling to be myself, or even do things that make me happy. Usually I am not weighed down by school and work, but it has been increasingly more difficult to have the energy to take care of my obligations and take care of myself at the same time. I have been sleeping poorly, I am hurting from my persisting headaches, and I am even more dispirited by not continuing with my hobbies.
Every day, I feel that I always have so much to do. I live by my to-do lists, but recently, I have been fighting to even complete half of my to-do list, something that usually comes naturally. Between homework, keeping the apartment clean, and spending a lot of time at work, I barely have enough energy to spend time with my roommates, read, and write. Sometimes, I cannot even complete my obligations.
I have sometimes had bad weeks, but never like these past few months where nothing seems to cure my exhaustion.
I have been offered plenty of advice from friends and family. From words of encouragement to suggestions to calm my nerves, I have noticed a pattern of concern: my passion for kindness. I know that I put others before myself, and I know that most people would say you should always put yourself first, but that makes me uncomfortable.
By treating others with kindness, not only does one create happiness for someone else, but it also sparks something inside of them. I always want to put others before myself, and it is easy to do as a passive person.
This is also why I have a hard time saying “No, I need to take care of myself.” When people ask me to do them a favor or go do something fun, I will typically agree to it even if I do not really want to. I know that it is not always healthy, but that is what comes naturally to me.
I always worry about being selfish, and I condemn any unkind thought, which usually means spending time with someone when I want to enjoy alone time or bury myself in books.
After talking to many people about my dilemma, I have been met with the question, “Who should you put first, yourself or others?” I always sigh when I am asked this. I know I am supposed to say that I put myself first, but I do not want to. I want to put others first because that is what kindness is all about.
Despite my belief that taking care of others is sometimes more important, I have come to realize that there is more to kindness than putting others first. Kindness has many intricate pieces, and part of that has to do with one’s mindset. You–and I am really saying this to myself, so I–will never be able to give myself fully and completely to being a kind person for others if I am not taking the time for myself.
In theory, I have always known this, and I have always powered through the hard times, but now I cannot ignore it. My body is telling me it needs some attention for a change.
There is a beautiful quote that has been stuck on mind lately, “You carry so much love in your heart. Give some to yourself.” – R.Z.
And that starts with actually posting on this blog on Sundays, with writing some short stories and sending them into contests, editing the novella I keep pushing off, and reading even when I feel too tired.
When listing these off, it sounds like too much, but I need to push myself, too. I do not know who I am if I don’t have goals, and I want to stick to them.
Kindness is a large piece of my life; it is something for which I have the deepest passion, and it has become a part of who I am. It’s always uncomfortable trying to define yourself, and I hope that anyone who is also grappling with a definition finds some hope within my struggle.
I have always thought that kindness is a battle between selfishness and selflessness, but I think it is actually a mixture, somewhere in between those broad terms. It is not selfish to let yourself need and want things. It is not unkind to care for yourself.
It’s time to start being kind to yourself, too.