Kinder than Necessary

I recently enjoyed a quick, girls’ trip to Washington DC. While I’m tired from the travel, I’m feeling grateful for that quality time together.

When you travel, you have the opportunity to enjoy new experiences and many of those experiences have customer service elements to them. Unfortunately, on this trip, many of our customer service experiences were lack luster -either immemorable or memorable for the wrong reasons.

That being said, there were some incredible customer service experiences on this trip. People who went out of their way to be kind, friendly, and hospitable. Upon boarding our flight, my friend, Michelle, asked the woman who was scanning tickets at the gate how her day was going. She was so friendly and charming and said, “Wow, thank you for asking me about my day.” On the flight home, we told the flight attendant that we thought her nails and bracelets were pretty as she gathered snacks and waters for us. You could tell she was so appreciative. As the crew prepared for landing, she came back to tell us she appreciated us and wished us well.

All of this has me thinking about that sign which was floating around social media, “The world is short staffed. Be kind to those who showed up.” We all have stories. We all have trauma. And in the case of many of our educators, we have secondary trauma where we carry the heavy hearts and stories of our students with us as well.

There is a saying in education, “The kids who need love the most often ask for it in the most unloving ways.” I’m starting to wonder if the same is true for the adults. I’m certainly not excusing away poor customer service or poor attitudes from adults in our schools and organizations. I’m merely thinking about it a bit differently.

Often, the behavior of other people actually has nothing to do with us. And yet, it’s pretty easy to take it personally, to feel like attacked, or to feel like that individual is trying to bring us down.

There is no shortage of worries and problems in this world. And yet, some people carry it well even when it’s heavy. We just really never know exactly what someone is going through. So, why not be kinder than necessary? It feels good. We get a feel good feeling from knowing that we showed up well and kindness receivers get something from it too even if they don’t show it.

So, let’s celebrate the people who show up in ways that fill this world with love and light. Let’s never stop celebrating them and appreciating them. Because it takes a lot of energy to be that person every day, and we need people to have the energy to keep the light on.

Let’s cut ourselves a little slack on the days when we feel our light dimming. Let’s cut ourselves some slack on days when we seem to lose a bit of our sparkle. The world can be harsh and tiring, and we’ve been doing our best. Let’s be self-aware enough to recognize when we are struggling and take care of ourselves, so we can get back to being our best for ourselves and others.

And let’s not let the negativity of other people bring us down. The only thing we can control is how we show up, and when we show up well, things seem to have a way of working themselves out in the end.

Showing up well doesn’t mean that we ignore the hard stuff. It means that we are self-aware. We practice checking in with ourselves and others in ways that feel honest, genuine, and caring. We practice naming feelings and feeling those feelings. We find authentic ways to lift ourselves and others up, so we can get back to the hard work of changing the world through growing the hearts and minds of children.

We are deeply feeling people having a deeply human experience. The same is true for our students. And everyone with which we come into contact.

For the most part, we are all doing the best we can. So, let’s keep trying and caring and messing up and learning and trying again. That’s what it means to be human.

Energy is contagious. Spread the good stuff.

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