- Kindness, whether a consequence of an ulterior motive or otherwise, still makes the world a better place. Hating on the friend who volunteers at charity homes just to get some appreciation on social media is pointless, because there are some people who truly benefit from it. The same rule applies to the neighbour who gives away tomatoes from her garden because she doesn’t like them, or your colleague who offers to buy you lunch because he knows you’re going to have to cover for him on your next assignment. It is almost too easy to forget that pessimism spreads like a disease. Don’t focus on the negatives, for your own sake.
Dissent is not the same as disloyalty. So goes the quote by Edward Murrow, but I’ve grown to understand the extent of its validity only recently. I’ve always been lucky enough to have been allowed to form my own opinions, whether about the existence of God or pineapple on pizza – it never made a difference. But if ever I say that I dislike something about my family, it doesn’t make me an ungrateful wretch. If I talk about an aspect of my country that I happen not to appreciate, it doesn’t make me unpatriotic. If I advocate the rights of men, it doesn’t make me anti-feminist. Never compartmentalize people based on an isolated instance.
- Being busy is overrated, but this doesn’t give you a free pass to laziness. Especially relevant if you’re the sort of person who spouts quotes about the importance of pausing before life passes you by (but those are the only things you ever quote.) There’s a massive difference between working hard and still making time for yourself each day, and just slacking off without reason. Industriousness is so underrated, and yet it’s the only quality that can guarantee a certain degree of success.
Invalidating someone else’s problems by telling them that others have it worse is the most insensitive thing you can do. I’ve seen so many people brazenly telling their friends to “suck it up” when they talk about their problems because someone else is probably dying of cancer at this very moment. Sure, if you’ve listened to your best friend rant about her ex for months on end and you finally snap, asking her to think of the bigger picture in order to give her some perspective, you’re justified. But telling someone who is obviously hurting and distressed that their problem is insignificant because the Jews were killed in the holocaust and children are starving in Africa and Trump will probably become the President is a dick move.
- Being unable to empathize with someone every once in a while does not make you a monster. Give yourself a break. As long as you make an effort to hear people out, to comfort them or help them to the best of your ability, don’t beat yourself up for not feeling an emotional wrench each time someone goes through something. For example you may, like me, cry yourself to sleep after watching videos about puppies being stoned to death, and yet scroll past a post written by an expectant mother on the loss of her baby with not so much as a shudder. That is okay. It does not make you a bad person, and you don’t need to feel guilty if people try to shame you for it. In fact, the worst thing you can do is to fake empathy. It will leave you feeling like a fraud, and twice as ashamed, as a consequence.
Contrary to what people may tell you, never take anyone or anything for granted. Ever. In any relationship. Whether it’s the person you’ve been married to for twenty odd years or the kitten who lets you pet it occasionally. Familiarity brings with it a sense of security, which although not unfounded, can be very damaging if dealt with inappropriately. This means that forgetting the rare birthday or missing a lunch date you planned a week ago can be forgiven – but you have to earn the apology. Never, ever assume you can get away with it just because you’ve known someone for a long time or are close to them. Thank people for holding the door open for you, for passing the salt at the table, for listening to you whine about the one night stand with Stinky Breath. But even if you don’t acknowledge the favour verbally, don’t make the mistake of lulling yourself into a misplaced sense of importance in someone else’s life. No one is indispensable. And yes, that includes you.
Tanvi Deshmukh is a nineteen year old girl from Pune, India, with an affinity for words and books, cats and coffee,Nepalese food and hippie music, and the colour green (along with Oxford commas). Currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in English, she loves poetry, volunteers at an NGO and plays the keyboard in her free time. Along with devouring books of all kinds, unless of course, she’s in the middle of heated discussions on feminism, patriarchy, gay rights, or what to name the neighbour’s new dog.