I’m Struggling With Kindness…

by Cole

You know that feeling when you’re in your own world — thinking about all of your goals or your drama or how you can’t wait to eat. And an opportunity to be kind presents itself to you?

It could be a simple opportunity to smile while someone walks past you. Or a genuine “ how are you doing” to your favorite barista. Calling a friend you know who needs someone to listen. Hold on to some of those opportunities to be kind, just for a sec. 

I have this feeling that people need me. They need to me to listen — to help — to buy — to sell — to hold. At some point, around the time I moved out to LA and started over, I feel like I kind of shut all that shit down. 

It was survival mode — a depressed, animalistic version of myself walked the streets searching for the light at the end of the tunnel, selfishly focused on my own success and well being. 

This is looking at it with a critical lens, but in my head, I felt this way. I felt like I wasn’t the best friend, lover, son, brother — like I couldn’t give myself to anyone. And through years of entrepreneurship and artistry, I truly know deep down the power of kindness and the power of giving. So it made me even more depressed.

Photo by Mahdi Dastmard on Unsplash

As I’ve started to lift myself out of the hole, I’ve noticed that after I begin to reach some personal goals, my natural inclination is to want to give and help others. For some people it’s the opposite — help others first. For me, it’s never been like that. Whoops.

I’m starting to fall into a mini community of sorts — I haven’t technically made friends out here, but we have neighbors, coffee shop friends, clients, acting buddies, etc.. Still, I’m finding it so hard to push myself that extra step — I can feel it happening. But actually taking advantage of these kindness opportunities, is harder than it may seem.

Every time they happen- the easiest excuse enters my brain — ah, I don’t feel like it. I’ve got too many things to think about, and then instantly when the moment passes, I’m like “damn, why couldn’t I just have been a little more open and kind?”

When I was 19, at Clemson University, I did this corny ass thing with my buddy Alex. Love that kid. We would stand out in front of the library with a sign that says “FREE COMPLIMENTS”. Everyone that walked by — we would do our best to give them a genuine compliment. Say what you want about the silliness etc. — But I believe we really made some people’s days. We saw lots of smiles, thank you’s and laughs.

Photo by Brian Lundquist on Unsplash

Over the next 10 years of my life, I’ve experienced so many ups and downs. I’ve lost and gained hope, friends, faith, love, and everything in between. Something dulled since then, a fire dimmed, and I wonder how I can get back this no fucks given kindness. I wonder if the world killed it off in me. Sometimes I wonder if it is a form of embarrassment that I feel now, or do I just not “feel” like putting in the effort to be kind? Either way, I think that sucks.

Literally, as I’m writing this, a young lady at the coffee shop has sparked two conversations with people around her. She seems incredibly nice. I just heard her give a random lady a compliment on how she looks. Yet, my first instinct is to be like 

God, I hope she doesn’t talk to me”.

Introvert thoughts? 

Yes, but I think I can do better at being open to receiving kindness. Just like I can be more open to giving.

I find it very interesting that the two books I’ve read/am reading in the past few weeks dance around these three topics — vulnerability, kindness, and giving. The Go-Giver & Daring Greatly. They both have these themes of the importance of connection — and I feel like my two fields of expertise — being an artist & entrepreneur — sometimes thrive off of this “I can do it alone” mindset. 

Our society today has almost given this supreme pride of being able to make it “alone”.

In theory, that’s cool, I guess — props to you. But in reality, it’s not. It’s not cool. Without connections and relationships, I mean what are we? When I “make it”, I want people to celebrate with me. I want to have conversations that stimulate my mind and push my thought boundaries. I can’t do that alone. I can try. But it’s not the same. And I don’t want solitude anymore. The pandemic gave us enough of that. I want community. I want to help, share, and be kind.

Photo by Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash

I know the world hasn’t killed it off all the way in me. I wouldn’t be feeling these feelings if it had, but I know that the life I’m living now just isn’t enough. I’m not being kind enough.

So, I’m challenging myself and I guess, you too. Let’s be kind at LEAST once per day. I don’t care what it is. Whatever means “being kind” to you. And every day has to be different.

We could give a compliment we wouldn’t normally give. Ask someone how they’re doing. Give an extra phone call. Pay for a meal. Answer a question.

Can we be more kind?

I think so, and I hope you join me on this. It only worked if we are intentional about it. It’s got to be on our brain. Maybe start with 7 days? See how it goes. I think it will affect us more than either of us may realize..

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