I can remember the very first time I heard Beck’s, Loser. I was in the 6th grade and my friend Rachel popped the cassette in as we left school one day. She was excited to show it to me and almost immediately I could see why. I loved it. Instantaneously, I wanted to crawl inside of it and make babies.
Rachel was never a best friend or even one of my semi-closer friends, as close friends go in the 6th grade. But she always had great taste in music and had this grounded chillness to her that, in retrospect, I would liken to that of an old soul. But we rarely hung out 1:1. And the reason, *sigh*, is just sad. Before I tell you, let me preface this by explaining that I was never “the popular kid”, however, I was privileged enough to be a social butterfly that fluttered among the thespians, poets, writers, artists, nerds, skaters, and “popular kids”.
Rachel was neither a “popular kid” nor a floater, like me. She was more of an outcast or an outlier; seemingly content riding solo or in a group. Remember. Grounded chillness. She did not appear to need much socially. Combine this and her taste in music and I would wager a guess that she is THE AWESOME now.
But, for me, (although I truly enjoyed her company when we would hang out), she was one of those friends that I would ditch in a heartbeat when a “cooler” kid would come along.
Yes. We have all been on the giving or receiving stick of this self-confidence mutilating dilemma. And at times, I was one of the “ditchers”. Such an un-kind, a-hole move. I know.
And it wasn’t until I began writing this piece and heard my daughter utter this sentence: “It’s really hard to be kind all the time/I am the worst”, that I remembered Rachel and the song, Loser.
We have always taught our daughter that one of the most important things she can do in life, (and that which she can control), is to be kind. The Golden Rule. Karma. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Always be kind. (Don’t worry, we also taught her to speak her mind, that her voice/thoughts/feelings are important, how and when to practice ‘Scream, Run, Tell’, and that boys have a penis and girls have a vagina.)
If you google ‘being kind’ or even just the word, ‘kind’, you get a plethora of various websites and links about the importance of being kind. Here are just a few:
This one was a kindness challenge that I decided to try and failed miserably in that I stopped “playing” after challenge # 5...or was it #4...
And lastly, this one talks about the benefits of being kind, including that you will live a longer, presumably happier life. (More on living long and prosperous in a future blog post)
All this from just a quick search on kindness. Did I miss the memo? Did we all wake up and become a bunch of raging assholes. (Again, re-read in John Oliver’s voice. SO much more enjoyable. Someone needs to make an app that does this! I can’t be the only one. Anyone? Bueller?)
Oh, wait. I got the memo. I AM the memo. And not just my 6th grade, unkind a-hole self. Like the rest of the Internet, I have been trying to ram kindness home with my 6 year-old like it’s going out of style. But is it really? And is kindness the most important thing?
And what kind of kindness are we speaking of here? Does this include being kind to ourselves, which I consider of UTMOST importance?
When pondering the BIG ones, I find immense comfort and a powerful simplicity in my beloved Ayurveda teacher’s response to most questions: “It depends”. (Thank you, Kathryn!) Brene Brown is also the master of words with this fine statement: “Boundaries are frickin’ important”.
I have literally been a broken record as a Socio-Emotional Counselor for teens with both students and faculty alike regarding this message- We. Need. Boundaries. For self- preservation, for self- love...for being able to be kind. For kindness to even exist, boundaries must move from stage left to front and center. If boundaries are Batman, kindness is Robin.
I feel like my husband and I have been pushing a 70/30 ratio of kindness vs. boundaries with kindness at the helm, when we ought to be bringing up and modeling boundaries far more than we are. Obviously, since she feels that she is the worst because she is doing a piss poor job at being kind. This I do not want. I am okay with her experiencing feelings of failure, as failure is one of our most important and underrated teachers in life, but not self-doubt at our own expense just yet. Not until she is 30 and in therapy, that is.
I have already seen this scenario play out with my daughter in both directions- friend ditcher and friend ditchee. I watched after her seemingly kind friend ditched her for another as she anxiously waited in the outer friend circle, hovering while she nervously bit her nails, searching for that “in” again like a game of double dutch. I have also watched her ditch a fun and amazing friend for this same girl that did the ditching in the first place. So we had the kindness conversation. But also the feelings conversation, which resulted in broaching the topic of emotional boundaries. It’s a dance really. And one we will all continue to do for the rest of our natural born lives.
I vow to help her keep that kindness cape on so she can continue to be the kindness heroine that I know she loves to be, but, in order for her to be truly kind to herself and others, I will make sure to toss the invisibility cloak of boundaries right on top first.
Then at least I am arming her with both a magic wand and a shield. Now this is a fair fight.
And just for fun, go read the lyrics to Loser here. I’m a driver, I’m a winner. Things are gonna change, I can feel it.