I love the work that I do. I get to work with some remarkable young people who want to change the world for the better. I remember when I was their age, I felt so afraid to speak up about what I was going through. I remember having people in my life that I admired that openly spoke badly about people who struggled with their mental health. I remember feeling voiceless.
But the thing is, the people around me never in their wildest dreams thought that I was struggling. I was the perfect student. I had perfect grades. I was the perfect athlete. I listened, I did what I was told, and for the most part, I showed up and performed (just not to my own standards). But I was struggling, behind that outer perfect mask I created for myself. I never felt like I fit in. As a child and a teenager, I was bullied and teased. I spent the rest of my young adult life feeling not good enough.
We never truly know what others are going through. Some people spend their whole lives hiding behind a smile. The students I work with, want there to be fewer people who have to hide and struggle in silence. Every day, I hope we can bridge the gaps that exist for those of us who might be struggling. I hope we can remind others that it is okay to not be okay. I hope we can be patient with them and provide compassion to them.
Let’s normalize being kind and compassionate to others, even if we don’t know what they are going through. Even if we don’t understand someone’s experience, practice being kind and caring. The difference you can make, simply by being kind, is huge. Think about how you would want to be treated if you were struggling, and do your best to do the same to others.
And on top of normalizing being kind and compassionate to others, let’s also remember to be kind and compassionate to ourselves. Because we may be the one who is walking around behind a smile, hoping that someone will check in. Be kind to yourself. Be patient and compassionate with yourself. Acknowledge that you are going through a hard time, even if it doesn’t make much sense to you, and remember that you are worthy of continuing on.
Let’s normalize being kind to others, and being kind to ourselves on this journey. It is hard for so many of us to even just get through the day. So let’s remember that kindness to others can make a huge difference and kindness to ourselves can allow us to heal.
You never know what someone is going through. Be kind and compassionate. You might be struggling. Be kind and compassionate. Both are so important.