On Integrity and Kindness

Adulting makes us lose faith in humanity.

Jane Austen says:

The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.

A while ago I bumped into a colleague, who I admittedly didn’t know very well, and I brought up her upcoming work trip to England. God knows I’m an anglophile (this word sounds hypocritical?), but I doubt she did. So, when she graciously asked me what souvenirs I wanted, I just blurted out ‘shortbread’. Of course, I graciously followed with ‘please don’t bother’. But she brushed it off and promised to get me some.

Now, I’d call it ‘adulting’, but, in all honesty, I have lost faith in the human race. When’s the last time you have broken a promise? So often, we make promises and fail to keep them. Worse, we make promises we don’t mean to keep. Well, it’s all part of being an adult, right? If you expect anything more, you’re doomed to a lifetime of disappointment. It’s called being realistic.

Ok, let’s be real. I did NOT expect this. It turned out another colleague, who was also on that work trip, who I also admittedly didn’t know very well, brought this to me. It was an act out of integrity and genuine kindness. They could have forgotten this whole thing, and I would not have held a grudge. And in that moment, I felt like my faith had been restored.

Guys, I’m not saying we should hand out kindness like sweets because obviously:

(1) there are people who do NOT deserve it;

(2) Jane Austen was right; and

(3) I’m not god.

But we shouldn’t stop being kind or stop believing in the best of people just to save ourselves from disappointment. If you truly live by your values, you will attract the right kind of people, and those people are worth it. Learn to recognise those who try to take advantage of your kindness and hold your ground. When they go low, we go high, in true Michelle Obama fashion.

Welcome to my TED Talk and my colleagues are better than yours.

Full-time dreamer, part-time armchair psychologist. They/She.