Throughout my life, I have always stood by the saying, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” When I was a kid, I knew I was different from others (being Chinese after all), so I sought to be as kind as possible towards my classmates, hoping they would also return the favor.
That mission went a bit overboard at times, as I began to bring huge bags of candy to school to share with my classmates. During one school year, I even went out and bought a lot of gifts for my friends and classmates, hoping that the gesture would inspire them to also bring me gifts as well.
But I was wrong: throughout my school years, I became known as the “candy girl” and people began to take advantage of my kindness. I noticed I was also bitter about nobody ever showing me the same kindness I showed them, at least with the gifts and all.
Granted, once I got into college, I didn’t do the whole candy bit anymore, but I showed my kindness in other ways, like giving friends rides, paying for meals, etc. Essentially, throughout my life I have always bent over backwards for others.
I don’t know when I learned my lesson, but it was within the past couple years of my life, though. That bitter feeling I once felt as an adolescence has dissipated though, as I have come to realize that to be giving and kind to others, I needed to let go of that feeling that others “owed” me something in return. Sure, it was a nice feeling to have someone return a kind gesture to me, but I no longer needed that validation to feel that I had done the right thing.
I have also learned to set boundaries on my level of kindness, knowing that I didn’t always need to bend over backwards for others. I shouldn’t feel obligated to do more than I need to do, especially if it makes me feel uncomfortable.
Being kind and selfless really does mean giving and doing for others with no need for anything in return after all.