Being Nice is Super Tight
My 9-5, Monday through Friday, clock in-clock out job can get dark. I work with college students. Not just college students. College students with exceptionalities. Exceptionalities including autism, epilepsy, auditory/speech processing, things like that. I find these students work: jobs, internships, volunteer work, provide career coaching, and placed in my position as a sounding board for student concerns both in their professional and personal lives.
Needless to say, it gets heavy.
The other day I had a discussion about bullying. And not just bullying but downright meanness. For no reason. And one thing that stuck me right in the heart was this question that was asked of me: What age do people stop being mean to me or treating me differently?
Someone was being mean to this student. Because they were different. Because there was something about them that bothered someone else, and that someone else didn’t know how to just keep their mouth shut. Because this student, who dreams of helping people one day, who wants to take care of people like themselves, wasn’t, “Normal.” The word, “Normal” can be kind of an offensive word here to some of my students.
And I was ready to throw DOWN-But I had to be real with this student, and it absolutely killed me to say this to them: Never. And I’m going to be honest, I didn’t think much more of it. We talked about how they were going to handle situations like that. When someone makes fun of the way you say something or the way you look or dress, handle it was grace. Kindness even. No one can make fun of you for being kind. Or hilarious.
And that’s kind of how I learned how to handle bullying growing up…There was a significant amount of bullying growing up…and now I think I handle alot of uncomfortable situations the same way: Jokes. Usually at my own expense and then an invitation to hang out. I mean if you’ve ever seen 8 Mile, you’d know that-you know what? Nevermind. Off topic. Back to the story. (Go watch 8 Mile).
Yesterday was kind of an awesome day. I had one of my photos, taken by my buddy Errol, featured on Harley Davidson’s official verified Instagram. SO official. Friends reached out, said congratulations (I didn’t really DO anything), alot of digital high-fives. Felt super great. And then I made the mistake of reading the comments.
I’ve realized, as many people do, that people start feeling super duper brave on the internet. I mean, I do. There’s no immediate threat of getting punched. I don’t like getting punched for being super funny.
So here’s this photo of me on my bike (pre-accident), with some of my extra pizazz that I had added. You know, some different bars, a tank lift, an ignition coil relocation that I was pretty proud of at the time since I did it myself-minor things. But all things that I felt looked rad.
DISCLAIMER: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS ACCEPTABLE MOTORCYCLE MODIFICATION PROTOCOL. I REFRAIN FROM EVEN CALLING MY BIKE A CHOPPER BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW IF IT ACTUALLY COUNTS AND THE WORST THING WOULD BE SOMEONE WHO HAS AN ACTUAL CHOPPER TO SAY, “HEY DUMMY. THAT’S NOT A CHOPPER.” AND THEN I WOULD BE EMBARRASSED FOR TRYING TO BE SOMETHING I’M NOT EVEN THOUGH I DIDN’T KNOW I WAS TRYING TO BE THAT THING. I JUST LIKE MOTORCYCLES.
Anyways, scrolling through these comments, liking all of them, and then I find this comment from some cat that does not appreciate me or my motorcycle very much. Which is fine. Everyone has an opinion, I get that. But I realized something, like I do: being mean-on the internet or otherwise-is so much LESS fun than just being nice.
This post is not meant for you to go find this person on this photo, and get into your own internet battle. It is not meant to talk about how I was the, “Bigger person”. I don’t really think I was. I responded with a joke about being short, how putting a sticker on my bike gave me +5 HP, and said I just wanted to hang out. And I thought that was kind of funny.
He stopped talking to me after that and then tagged Hipster Proof.
Here’s the thing: I have no idea who this person is. Maybe they truly love the motorcycle scene and felt that I was taking advantage. Maybe they thought I was trying to capitalize on popularity and break into a scene that wasn’t mine. And in all honesty, I respect that so hard. There are not alot of things that stay sacred. I would love to talk to that guy one day, just to see what he’s done and what he does and what it was that really just made him so upset. I don’t think I’ll really ever know.
I was talking to Cory about it last night. And he told me, that I was the best at NOT giving people the reaction they want. Which I guess is a pretty wicked compliment. But I realized that being bullied when I was little and chubby, was the best thing that ever happened to me. Because learning to have a conversation like this:
Angry Person: YOU SUCK
Me: That’s fair
Angry Person: GET BENT!
Me: What shape? I can do a circle pretty well. Squares are hard, but I’m learning.
Angry Person: YOU’RE A WANNABE
Me: Wannabe riding motorcycles, amirite?! Wanna hang out?
Is WAY more fun than just trying to get someone to listen to what you have to say by being mean.
Go be nice to someone today.
It’s super tight.
Happy Wednesday. - Nick
Also, Here’s a screenshot of that post that I’ll probably end up framing and putting up in my office at work.