Kindess: The Hardest Language to Master
By: Zoie Noranho
There have been so many instances in my life where I’ve tried being considerate to a family member or a friend, only to have my actions misunderstood. I wouldn’t be able to count them on my 10 fingers because there are too many. I’m sure I’m not the only one who's gone out of their way being kind but ends up with their good intentions being trampled upon. Why is it that when I try to be kind to someone else, they don’t see it?
There are many analogies that I could use because they are my favourite way of explaining the misunderstood, but I think one of the better suited ones is to compare kindness to languages. Languages, for the most part, are universally understood. In the case that you don’t understand something, there is always a dictionary lying handy somewhere. When used properly and concisely, we’re able to convey our message and desires to others with ease. In a way, kindness is its own language- with no dictionary available. There is no objective truth about the way someone shows kindness. The language of kindness is completely open to miscommunication. While this is definitely a barrier, there is an enchanting beauty to the madness of kindness.
We’re all born with things like selfish desires and wishes. These qualities are gained naturally: passions, hobbies, interests, dislikes and such. At first, all we know how to do is “want”. It's everyone’s natural survival instinct. That’s why we’re able to relate to those feelings in others. But the same cannot be said for kindness. No one is really born kind. It's created individually by each person and develops slowly over time in the same way our bodies do. We each must take the time to work on kindness and hone it. Although I know I definitely struggle with kindness, some may have an easier time with it than others. Nevertheless, I truly believe that everyone has the potential to be kind. You may just have to look really close before you can tell it's there.
Because it’s handcrafted by each person, it looks different for everyone. Your personal ideologies, experiences, and memories have all played a role in the shape your kindness has taken. I think that is truly beautiful because each person’s kindness is unique to them. Almost like a work of art, that has been worked at and shaped into what it looks like now. But just like with all artwork, it can easily be misunderstood. The different kinds of love languages try their best to sort through and organize this very concept but an abstract idea like kindness cannot be categorized. There’s physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and receiving gifts. So if two people have completely different ways of showing kindness and appreciation, then there will always be things that are going unnoticed or unappreciated. The more we try and understand the language of kindness, the more we realize that human interactions are so much more complicated than they look.
The study and practice of kindness have no end. There is no formula to always understand another person. The very thought of such a thing is ridiculous because even with a climbing population of 7.9 billion, there are not two people who are exactly the same. So the way we each express kindness is different, continuously changing as we grow. It amazes me because there is so much room for growth and discovery. In getting to know others, I can see the shape of their kindness, whether it's round or square, whether it is similar to mine or different. I believe that these differences are something to celebrate. It makes life a continuous journey of being kind to others and recognizing what kindness looks like in them.
So it's been established that everyone’s kindness looks different and that there is no formula to the language of kindness but what does that mean? Is this language doomed to be misunderstood forevermore? I don’t know if there is a solution to this dilemma but I do know that it is easy to doubt others, to assume the worst of people, and to say hurtful things even when we don’t mean it. It’s hard to believe in others but that is what we’re called to do. To support one another, whether that be in big ways or small. We can try to not assume we know everything about someone and be mindful with our words because we never truly know what emotional baggage someone is carrying with them, or what they’re struggling with. Even the smallest action can give strength to someone else. It’s okay if people don’t recognize your kindness. Just continue to shape and craft your masterpiece and look for the beauty in the kindness of others. I’m trying my best to shape mine into something I can be proud of and I sincerely hope that you too can do the same.