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Show Yourself Some Kindness
Back in middle school, I longed for something I did not have—straight, frizz-less hair.
With each step to the bus stop, my hair seemed to grow in height and frizz from the unforgiving combination of humid, dewy mornings.
I remember feeling ashamed of my wild waves, as I nervously tried to smooth my hair and tuck it into my jacket. No one else spoke badly about my hair, but I did. The self-talk was not positive or kind. Why can’t I have Jess’ golden, straight hair? I watched her laugh with ease, wishing I could be invisible.
Taking matters into my hands, I had my parents drive me to the closest mall (35 minutes away!) and purchased a Conair battery-operated curling iron. I thought the curling iron was the answer to all my problems. My hair would frizz up at the bus stop, and I’d make my way to the school bathroom and re-straighten. As you can probably guess, the portable heating device didn’t have quite the industrial-level strength required to tame such thick hair.
My parents would tell me I was beautiful, and I’d brush their accolades off like meaningless words on a page. They don’t understand, I thought. My hair is ugly; I’m ugly.
And while my hair routine was a legit concern, the real problem was how unkind I was to myself.
Little by little, I learned some tricks for styling my hair and became more comfortable in my skin. I started to feel pretty. And in seventh grade, a new boy named, “Miguel” moved to town. We lived in a small town, so any newcomer gained immediate popularity. After a few weeks, rumors started to spread that Miguel thought I was cute. Me?! I thought. We had never spoken, so I was surprised and felt super awkward about it.
One afternoon, right before my bus stop, a friend handed me a letter from most of the girls in my class. I stepped off the bus, unsure of the words inside the note. As I unfolded the tiny square, I glanced down the page, and tears filled my eyes. The top of the page said, “Reasons Why Miguel Shouldn’t Like Nicole.” Similar to signatures in a yearbook, each girl had written a small, hateful note and signed her name underneath. The words were anything but kind. One message read, Why would he want your virgin-untouched lips? Another said, You shouldn’t date Miguel, you're not good enough. The letter was confirmation of all the hateful, unkind words I already spoke over myself.
Unable to hold in my tears or act like I was okay, I walked inside my house crying. My mom sat with me on the couch and reassured me these girls were jealous and wrong to say such awful things to me. She also said to not respond to the letter. Instead, she encouraged me to “Keep being kind, and you’ll receive kindness in return.”
Within days, everything went back to normal with the girls in my class. Some even apologized.
Kindness disarms hatred. When we choose compassion and peace over strife and judgment, we win the battle. Compassion blesses both you and those in your path.
Instead of handwritten notes, kids (and adults), now take to the internet to tear each other apart. Let’s go against the grain. Be the bright spot in someone else’s day. You never know what they are going through or battling. Let’s show our children what it means to be kind even when we don’t agree with someone.
The words we speak to ourselves and others have so much power for good. Kindness starts with believing you are loved and letting that love runoff to those around you.