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Psst: Kindness Isn't Just a Trend

Being nice is mainstream, but it isn’t just a trend. Kindness is a choice we need to keep choosing.

Image by: Dayne Topkin

Kindness shouldn’t feel like an obligation.

I’ve reflected a lot about kindness lately, and I’ve realized it can both come naturally and feel like a requirement. Even if you’re a nice person, sometimes you feel forced to do things you don’t really want to do.

But kindness shouldn’t feel forced! That being said, it’s important to remember that ultimately, being kind is a choice. Sure, you can do nice things, but unless you’re intentionally doing something for the betterment of someone else, or yourself, you’re not being kind, you’re just being polite.

It’s also important to remember that kindness doesn’t always have to come from people who are close to you. Harry, one of my close friends from college, said something along those lines that really stuck with me.

The act of being kind doesn’t rest solely on you. I was chatting with my bestie Nicoletta, and she said something that expanded upon Harry’s idea of showing mutual kindness.

Kindness has a sort of domino effect: if we choose to knock down that first domino, it will set off a chain of events that keep going.

But what happens if you need to break that chain? What if giving kindness leaves you more drained than happy?

“NO” can be its own form of happiness. You need to care about yourself.

Okay, we all love our friends and feel compelled to help them out. But you need to make sure you’re helping yourself out, too.

Maybe that means not constantly volunteering to drive the squad places or hang with your study buddy. Whatever you’re doing, if it takes a toll on your mental health, it’s okay to step back and say no.

This even applies to situations like turning down a job or volunteer opportunity. I’m involved in a lot of clubs in college, three of which asked me to be on their executive boards at the same time. I ended up picking only the clubs I knew I wanted to commit to, but in that moment, I felt obligated to say yes to all three. I felt bad turning people down, especially since I loved all of those clubs and the people I befriended during our meetings.

In college, people are always going on and on about how we need to build our resumes, and joining a bunch of clubs is a big part of that. Here’s the thing: you don’t have to jump at every opportunity just because it’ll look good on a piece of paper.

Saying no wasn’t easy for me, but I knew I had to prioritize myself, and guess what? I couldn’t be happier!

Same thing goes for the internet and social media.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I really need a break from all that.

It’s not good for me to stay on Instagram for hours at a time or constantly feel the need to open TikTok when I’m bored. It gives me a headache and brings my motivation way down.

If I feel like I’m scrolling too much or find social media more stressful than stress-free, I’ll take a week off and either ignore the apps or delete them entirely; they’ll still be there when I’m ready to come back.

Image by: Jared Rice

The little things do matter.

I was talking to my long-distance college friend Emi, and she shared a story about how her small act impacted her new roommate.

Some people love doing big acts to make others happy, and while those are important, the smaller acts are equally as meaningful and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Listen, I know it’s not always good to follow trends, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about kindness, it’s that it’s one trend I’ll always want to follow.

Remember to choose kindness for both others and yourself—in whatever form that kindness may be!


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