As many of you have read from my previous posts, I did not grow up wealthy, and I am still battling the world for a little “wealth” to this day. I didn’t have the resources to offer things every time I was asked, and I ended up losing many “friends” because of this. I have seen instances where my so-called friends from my former years have asked repeatedly for things I had limited access to, and the day I said “No, I really need this” was the day I lost a friend.
I am not saying to be mean, but learn to identify when you are being gypped and learn to walk away respectfully from a potentially harmful friendship. While I was working in Jamaica, I had a friend who constantly borrowed from me, and most times I had to actually ask that friends back for my funds. After having my daughter, things obviously became more expensive for me, and life got a little more complex. That friend, knowing my situation, came to ask for a large sum. Upon hearing that I don’t have it to give, I was sentenced to a long, sad story of woe. I relented and loaned out my money, with the promise of it’s return at the end of the month. That was almost ten years ago (I am no longer angry, just using this as an example).
I called, I texted. Eventually, I was removed from my friend’s social media and their phone number was changed. I ended up in a cycle of borrowing from other people to support myself, as I gave away all my resources. Kind? Yes. Stupid? YES! I didn’t identify that I was being taken for granted. There is a very thin line between the two, and I missed the memo by a long shot.
Kindness extends far beyond that, however. If someone is in need, lend a hand; if someone cries out for help, see how best you can make them smile. I definitely endorse this, as we are humans and we need people. I am speaking, however, of people who seek to “use” your kindness as a weakness and endeavor to take all they can out of you until they can move on to the next prey.
Am I still kind today? To a certain extent, yes. And what I strive for is not to ask people to go out of their way to get things done for me. Not only is it inconvenient, but you may really be desperate for help at some other point and people might be hesitant to help. My roommate thinks I am a strange person because I am very selective in how I distribute kindness. I don’t think I am strange at all. I am human, and I have had a bad experience which taught me a valuable lesson: not everybody has your best interest at heart; they are mainly concerned about their own.
As such, what I have done is learn to pick my battles (in all instances) and try to be a good citizen because that’s what I want to be, not because I am backed in a corner and forced to be. I don’t want to be made to feel guilty because you were denied what you want.
My mother always says “Experience, my girl, teaches wisdom” and I have had my share of experiences and I’m now making the transition to wisdom.
Jodi-Ann is an Environmental Studies major in Nova Scotia, Canada.