World Kindness Day is Friday November 13. Kris McElroy shares 7 ways he is reclaiming his identity as an act of kindness to himself.
By: Kris McElroy
I’d never even heard of World Kindness Day until this year. Honestly, if I had before now, I’m not sure I would have paused to give it any space. The idea of and the act of kindness I didn’t believe in as unless I was picked as someone else’s “good deed” or was a charity project because of being an autistic biracial black transman with multiple disabilities.
I had become so accustomed to navigating stigma, stereotypes, and discrimination in everyday life connected to different parts of my identity, including being autistic. I also took on some of those negative, bullied messages in how I viewed and talked to myself. These messages took a toll on my mental and emotional health as well as my social wellbeing.
I learned to believe I was less than and a mistake. I realized early on in life that I had to prove my worth and abilities but struggled to do this. I struggled even though it seemed like I was continually working on fixing the parts of me others told me were wrong and an inconvenience, like my autistic traits.
Yet, I still struggled. The many bullying experiences, discrimination, misunderstanding, and gaslighting made a place inside my head, filling any silence present before and in my decades of self-injury. My self-image was so blurred and broken. Even though I engaged in being kind to others, I didn’t know what it meant or looked like to be kind to myself.
In 2020, I decided I wanted to make changes in the relationship I had with myself. One of the changes I wanted to make was to dismantle the negative messages and reclaim them in a positive light by supporting a shift in thinking.
I wanted to be able to be in my skin and believe that 1) I wasn’t made wrong, 2) I don’t need to fix my autism to make other’s more comfortable, 3) I am empowered by my own abilities to believe in my own capabilities, and these abilities are not decreased because of my autism or other disabilities, even if they look different and 4)
I am equal, loved, unique, purposed, and worthy just because I am me.
This self-care journey, rediscovering my self-worth and self-image, has been full of ups, downs, twists, and turns full of healing and discovery.
Embarking on that journey, I never imagined what I would discover. I don’t think I had high hope in the possibility of evolving the relationship I had with myself. Then came the first big moment.
The moment the hateful speech from voices of my past filled my head, and I was about to say it out loud as usual. But, instead of spewing out the everyday hateful speech to myself, I talked in a kind, understanding manner. I was stopped in my tracks as it didn’t feel like I said the kind, understanding words.
Then it sunk in, and excitement filled the air of my kitchen. I did it. I talked to myself in a kind, loving, understanding way.
It felt like a huge accomplishment full of so much hope of what could possibly come as I continued to embark on the journey.
As I continue moving forward on this evolving journey, I never thought I would have been able to stop self-injuring and that I would find the positives in being autistic and having other disabilities. I never thought my own worth and kindness would empower me.
Discovering Inspire Kindness online spoke the power of kindness I was experiencing in my life; an experience kindness at the core of reclaiming my identity as an autistic biracial, black transman with multiple disabilities; an experience I am excited to celebrate the transformative power of kindness has on World Kindness Day this year.
World Kindness Day is a day Inspire Kindness describes as “a global day that promotes the importance of being kind to each other, to yourself, and to the world. This day, celebrated on November 13 of each year, aims to help everyone understand that compassion for others binds us all together. This understanding has the power to bridge the gap between nations.” A day where I will be reclaiming these seven things:
I have the ultimate power to be kind to myself and others.
The act of kindness is transformative and healing.
I am reminded of and celebrate all the different ways I can be kind to myself and its impact on me.
Never underestimate the importance of a simple kind act or word.
I deserved to be fully included and treated as equal with kindness, understanding, and empathy in childhood and my young adult years.
My autistic traits are a part of my superpowers.
All the intersecting parts of my identity make up the exceptional individual I am, and I am loved, unique, purposed, worthy, empowered, and capable.
Editor’s Note: Printables and memes to share are available on the Random Acts of Kindness page
Kris McElroy is a freelance writer, artist, and advocate. He is passionate about social justice issues and exploring race, disabilities, gender identity & sexuality, mental health, identity, trauma, and intersectionality. Born and raised in Maryland, Kris is an autistic biracial black transgender man with multiple disabilities who enjoys spending time with his wife and family. He received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Maryland and a Master of Science in Multidisciplinary Human Services from Capella University.