Ten years ago, my friend was told he should “get to work, chubby.”
Every day since, he has struggled with anorexia. He’s been hospitalized, and through more counselling than I can imagine, yet in all likelihood, the person who called him chubby has no recollection of the comment that has shaped an entire decade of Kyle’s life.
The human brain is a tricky bitch, and words hurt.
Because of stories like Kyle’s, and because of my own experience of clinging on so tightly to strings of words that no one else in a room would remember minutes later, I’m unabashedly nice.
I’m nice to strangers, nice to my friends, and nice to the guy who cut me off on the freeway. I have a million flaws, but I refuse to let hurting others be one of them. Because I’ve been there. I’ve been called crazy and I believed it. I’ve had comments made about my appearance that I can’t seem to let go of. And these words, thrown carelessly, have changed me. Now for the better, but for a long time, for the worse.
So when my manager at work began attacking my personality, I was hurt. When a costume I spent a fair amount of time creating was deemed inappropriate, I cried. And when I was told to stop interacting with my coworkers, and to become colder, I quit.
I’m finally in a place where I’m truly happy with who I am, and I wasn’t going to spend the majority of my week in an environment where I wasn’t allowed to be myself; in an environment where out of the blue, being nice was an issue.
So, feeling as though I’d lost, I cried when I quit. It seemed words had beaten me, and I was somewhat disappointed that I wasn’t able to tough it out. But a week away from that environment, I know I made the right decision, and if there’s a winner and a loser, I’ve come out on top. I’m not broken. I’m still me. And I’m heading to a new company where I have high hopes that will be accepted.
And if it isn’t, I won’t stay, because no one should be subjected to negativity in regards to who they are.
And more importantly than that, everyone should use their words wisely. As humans, we have a unique gift to speak with real emotion, in real time, and to feel deeply. And as humans, we are all so beautifully, intrinsically different. There is nothing wrong with music we each choose to listen to, the clothes we wear, or the amount of social interaction we prefer. There is nothing wrong with loving or hating Twilight. It is okay to be a jock. And it is fantastic to regularly wear a Canadian tuxedo and listen to punk rock.
And because of that, I will continue to be genuinely nice. To always leave situations that are hurtful before they take an important piece of me. And to always encourage others to do the same.