When I was in elementary school, I already knew what kinds of things I wanted to do with my life. Other kids wanted to be firefighters or rock stars. I wanted to be a human rights lawyer or a GreenPeace activist. On my most big-picture days, I would frustrate my goal-oriented brother by telling him "I don't know what I want to be. I just want to love people."
I grew up a millennial, complete with my mother telling me all the time that I was unique and I could do anything I put my mind to. While I now know that's probably not true (I really can't be a ballerina at this point), I've always known I was different. I've always felt weird, and I love that feeling. I love being unique, being myself, and helping others do the same.
At the age of 31, I'm still learning how to be myself. I'm learning that I am not that girl with the easy hair, the one that can get out of bed and go straight to work (for proof, see my instagram/ #bedheaddiaries). I'm learning that I thrive in places where ideas live and the walls explode with potential, and I shrivel in places where I have to live by an unspoken (yet massive) rulebook and structure never moves. Even extroverts need nights alone with netflix or a good book! I like old ballads, thunderstorms and stories that don't get neatly tied up endings. I know who I am, and even though I'm still learning, I'm true to what I know.
How can you become a kinder you if you don't know who you are to begin with?
Kindness is getting to know you. Get to know your quirks, likes, dislikes, passions, favorite songs and most cherished coffee shops. Being kind to yourself means being true to who you are.
Imagine you're dating someone. How would that person woo you? Would you show up at your office with fresh flowers or with a chai latte? Would you give yourself a saturday morning of relaxing in bed, or a sunday hike to breathe in the fall air? Would you want a surprise party or an intimate picnic dinner?
It would be very kind of someone to do these things for you. Why wouldn't you do them for yourself?
I've got this shirt from So Worth Loving that says:
"Love you. Love people. Love you. Love people."
You have to be kind to yourself first. Woo yourself. Then figure out what makes someone else's day. Out of the kindness you have built within, be kind to those around you. Be true to yourself, so you can truly be kind to everyone else.