“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” -Maya Angelou
Full disclosure, this post is going to be a lot less nurse stuff and a lot more “I’m a human and I just got schooled at work” stuff. Hear me out.
“Tori, just give up your seat,” I thought to myself as I watched a doctor, who I’m not particularly a huge fan of, aimlessly try and find an open computer at the nurses’ station. Why call it the nurses’ station if I am never able to sit there in peace and complete the tedious charting, I haven’t had a second to do, without being asked to move so that a doctor, physical therapist, or another member of the interdisciplinary team can sit and chart? That’s a mouthful, and probably a run-on sentence, but do you see my dilemma?
Now, this doctor has come to the station before and has taken my computer while I’m clearly using it. I remember an instance where I got up to throw something away and in those brief moments, this doctor took his opportunity and snagged my spot. My applications were still open and you couldn’t deny it was in use…by ME. I couldn’t believe it. The nerve…the NERVE. I swiped my papers out from under the keyboard and stormed off. I could hear him following up with remarks of disbelief, but I didn’t dare turn around because I was that irate. Was that immature? Oh, for sure. Ha, I totally own that.
So, back to the story. On this day, every computer was taken and he was looking around, probably for an innocent soul to get up to throw something away so he could swoop in again. At first, I thought, “Good luck doc. How does it feel?” But then…I just had this weird feeling I was supposed to get up and offer him my seat. Everything in me was trying to justify me staying put, but seconds later I found myself getting up and telling him to sit. I wasn’t expecting a thank you, or even a smile from him, bleh. I was expecting to walk away with my pride still intact and for bystanders to give me praise.
As I stepped away, he started to thank me profusely. He even brought up the last incident and apologized?! “Crap,” I thought. Here I was, harboring this resentment and frustration towards this person and I only got up because I wanted to feel big and portray the saint in the narrative. Sure, I had an inkling that getting up was what I should do, but I admittedly didn’t do it out of the goodness of my heart.
This is what I wanted…to feel like the righteous person, but instead, I just felt dumb. Forget about my pride; it was uprooted and replaced with a nice dose of “humble yourself.” And not the kind that makes you feel good (wait, does it ever feel good to be humbled?). Why? Well, my motivations were self-seeking and I knew it.
Life is like that sometimes. It takes you to school and shows you all of the ways your heart is selfish and ill advised by your humanness. It shows you that getting even isn’t all that it’s chalked up to be. I realized that doing good means nothing and leads to emptiness if it’s done for selfish gain; for a return; for a thank-you; for recognition. Over time, that emptiness weighs on you. It causes a bitterness in your heart to rise up and steals the joy that you’re meant to experience as the giver or doer.
If you are someone that believes a little appreciation or that a thank you goes a long way, then welcome to the conversation. I share this sentiment. I want you to know, because I had to tell this to myself, there is nothing inherently wrong with feeling that way. What I want to get across here is this: Being kind is the bare minimum. If it always expects something in return, it’s something else. It’s now loaned-kindness.
Think about it. A loan is something that is meant to be returned, right? There are so many moments in my own life where I have been generous with my time, money, support, etc. and did it in order for it to then be reciprocated. Or to gain favor in the eyes of that person. Again, it’s okay if that has been your mindset. Cut yourself some slack and know that, innately, we are all a little selfish and wanting to feel appreciated for your devotion is more than valid.
My intention of sharing this is to encourage you to not lead with the loaner-kind-of-kindness. Let your kindness, generosity, service to one another, and love be genuine and selfLESS. The world is…rough. We certainly aren’t in short supply of opinions, gossiping, quarrels, and tension these days. Why not cut through it all with something that not only does good for another person, but for your own soul? Have you ever given a gift and the person’s excited reaction was an actual gift to you? I got something I wasn’t expecting: a thank you AND an apology. I wonder how much sweeter an unexpected act of appreciation will be when I “give up my seat,” no strings attached.
A lot of you might be frustrated with a person or a situation where you feel undervalued, underappreciated, unseen, all of the “uns.” You’re giving so much to that job. You hold the elevator for the same lousy neighbor every morning. You show up and show out for people in your world. You go above and beyond but feel the resentment welling up. Friend, can I tell you this? Give up the seat of pride. Give up the seat of selfish motivations. Give up the seat even when you don’t want to. Give up the seat that says what you can offer matters more than your character and heart. I promise, what you do will bless someone else, whether they acknowledge it or not, and it will always bless you. I’m still learning this each day, but truly enjoying the freedom it has brought into my life.
Stay tuned for more nurse-oriented content. Until then, I’ll be giving up seats left and right out of kindness, not for it.