When I think of the moments I regret it usually involves 2 types of situation: not standing up for myself and not standing up for others. Those moments where I stood in silence held weight on my conscience. This weight was something I carried without even knowing it until I became older, made friends, lost friends and uncovered bits of myself along the way. I realized the immense power that came with choosing. The act of kindness is a choice. Kindness isn't a unicorn and it's certainly not naivety. We don't get to sit by and just be. Even the act of not choosing is a decision. Kindness can be uncovered the same way we fuel love. With doses of intention, understanding, compassion and being a genuine soundboard of honesty. I've witnessed how this real gesture of caring/ kindness can transform all parties involved in this exchange. It's not all rainbows and sunshine but that effort and you are worthy.
I at times struggle to understand why we feel the need to break each other down. For me it comes down to making a choice to listen, digest and then speak because my words and actions matter. We can choose to not be apart of the rhetoric of hate. It stifles hope, perspective and just the basic human understanding of listening to our different stories. The mean girl stance lingers because there's a desperate need to belong. I'm apart of this and it makes me feel special so YOU CAN'T SIT HERE attitude. Exclusion creates this centrifuge of minds where all of a sudden we look around at our table and everyone's the same. I've learned the most from those that differ from me. I can see the comfort of having people in our world that think and act as we do but I can also see the silence that comes with it.
What has allowed me to register some of these feelings is knowing what exclusion feels like. We've all been there and *know* this feeling. Snotty, catty, rude, mean and dismissive. All words I want my stepdaughter Maddie to know and actively make a choice to step up to the plate and be otherwise. The "real talk" of empowering women doesn't have to be a loud speaker statement in every situation. It can look like a real smile and it can sound like "Hi, I'm Laura. What's your name?"