It’s easy to forget sometimes that we deserve kindness, though it really shouldn’t be. Though we like to think we know what we deserve, sometimes we grow bogged down by the rest of the world’s indifference. When we live in a world full of instant gratification and automated voices, it’s the norm to blunt our own expectations of how we ought to be treated. The bored cashier and the dismissive boss and the friend who flaked on dinner plans add up and we’re left wondering if kindness is a thing of the past.
But it’s there in little doses, between the waitress who was short with us and the guy who cut us off in traffic, those shocking little glimpses that somebody can actually care about you and be nice to you with no other ulterior motive than the desire to see you happy. There are people who want to be good to you, if you’ll let them.
Trust them. Let them. It’s not selfish to accept selfless kindness and selfless love.
I’ve had friends tell me that this altruism doesn’t exist. We listen to each other analyze and re-analyze texts and messages, searching for some warped backstory. And slowly, as their suspicions lead to self-fulfilled prophecies, I watch them shut down and slowly adopt a new way of thinking, one where most of us are all just searching for the same end game, that it’s safer that way, because then at least we’re all playing the same game. That if you don’t have any expectations, you can’t be let down. That it’s not shocking when someone doesn’t call, when they fall off the face of the earth, when they end up hurting you, no matter how much you believed that this time would be different. That everyone who says something nice and tries to get to know you is out to take advantage of you if you’ll let them. That karma keeps its tally, and whatever neglect the people who have loved us before suffer at our careless hands will come back double. That we’re not inherently worthy of love, that we have to prove ourselves to the contrary.
That because we have done all of these things to people, and may have been careless in the past, we deserve carelessness done unto us in return.
But you deserve something different, no matter how spotted and sordid your own past. Because if you can learn from your mistakes and apologize when you were wrong, it is proof that at least, if nothing else, you’ve grown. Our hearts are the things that keep score from one relationship to the next, but everything else wipes clean.
Because you deserve someone who is sweet and patient, who laughs at your jokes no matter how lame they are. You deserve someone who doesn’t belittle you, who lets you know when you’re wrong but tells you so kindly and not because they want to gloat. You deserve someone who sends you little jokes throughout the day because they think it’ll make you smile, and maybe even laugh. Because knowing that you’re smiling is enough to make them smile, too. You deserve someone who wants to spend time with you, who won’t hold themselves back, who takes the risk of letting you in because they think they have more to gain than they do to lose. You deserve all the cheesy little things if you want them: all the songs that make you think of them and the compliments that make you blush and the photos you have together with grins that stretch from ear to ear. You deserve someone to ask you how your day was, and who wants to hear about it and will let you complain about your boss for hours on end. You deserve the things that read like clichés, because even these were once rooted in truth.
The caveat, of course, is simple: that you have to be willing to give these things in return. You can’t look to reap all of the rewards without putting in the work yourself. Because to have these little things mean something, you have to value the person in return. You should care, and want to see them smile, and maybe even laugh. You should think of them in little doses throughout the day, and tell them so. Because just as you deserve someone who treats you well, so do they. Everyone does.
Yet we bottle up these emotions and let them fester, because we think that to voice them would be taboo. That maybe we’ll jinx ourselves if we admit to believing that we’re worth something good and real and honest and rare. That it’s self-centered and selfish and people will look down on us for having inflated egos. But we’re all worthy of love, so long as we know that love is worth time and effort and energy. As long as we know love is worth working for, we’re worth love, and all of the open doors and silly text messages and relinquishing the remote and sentimental love songs that come in between.
And you’re worth being reminded every now and again that you deserve someone who is good to you, too.