I was brought up thug style: my mom is a hardcore advocate of telling it like it is, whether it’s asking someone why they chose to wear a certain hat (“What? I’m genuinely curious as to why they thought it would look good!”) or disagreeing with my creative visions (“Your painting doesn’t tell me anything. Is it supposed to be something special?”) And I grew up armed with the sole strategy of being blunt, because where I’m from, being honest = being blunt = you say what you think, even if it hurts the other person. Over the years, through amassing detention slips and hating the sound of my own voice when I say things I now understand are harsh, I’ve learned what belongs in the outside world, and what is a subjectively derived thought that is far too sharp for another person’s ears. On that front, I’ve figured it out, with the occasional unintentional slip, of course.
What I’ve recently realized (and embarrassingly so, for being so recent) is that there is another aspect of human interaction that requires a kind approach. When it comes to someone doing something that straight up pisses you off, here’s a fun concept: don’t be a jerk in expressing that to them. We bake our loved ones banana bread and hold hands at the movies, but when we argue – sorry, when I argue – I tell it like it is. And y’all already know what ‘telling it like it is’ means, and it’s completely unnecessary, and only ends up hurting the other person. And what's worse is that it happens like this: you tell the person what you think they're doing wrong, and why you hate it, and by some miracle you work it out (because hellllo they’re your friend because they’re an understanding, wonderful person, after all), and everything is great again, but now you’ve got this knot, this yucky memory, made up of all the words you said when you were angry. And knots are very hard to forget. Why are we so kind when everything is great, but don’t extend that kindness when things are falling apart? Whether you’re treasuring a friendship, a relationship, or any other person whom you want to keep in your life, I think the secret lies in never, ever compromising on the warmth, the love, and the kindness you foster every single day. Kindness isn’t selective. It’s the ribbon around the life you choose to live, and that ribbon better wrap each and every word, regardless of how you feel.