Self-Reflection

Being nice: Is it your true color?

Me at the New South Wales State Library.

Not sure if I’ve written this before, but I’ve seen many say “Be good and kind. We don’t know who the person actually is or will be in the future. The wheel turns; now you might be at the top and they are at the bottom, but someday they might be at the top and you are at the bottom. So be nice and kind.” Well, I had no problems at first, but when I think about it, it just doesn’t feel right. I mean, it’s as if it’s okay to be not nice or kind to somebody if that person is nobody or won’t be someone in the future, and I believe this is not right. I mean, I know people mean good when saying it, and I’m not trying to be social justice warrior either, but, if we really have to have a reason for being nice and kind to someone, then maybe it’s because all of us are human, right? Everyone deserves kindness and must be treated nicely.

People often glorify social status, wealth, etc. and think people with such possession should be the ones to be treated with respect. They treat someone who looks shabby rudely thinking he’s just a homeless guy and nobody but it turns out he is actually a rich guy with high social status. Then they come with this idea: Don’t treat someone rudely. You don’t know who they actually are. Yes, but, if that person looking shabby is, in fact, a homeless guy and not a rich guy with high social status, is it then okay to treat him rudely? No, right? It’s not right. He, too, should be treated with respect. Homeless guys, poor people, etc. should also be treated nicely, and perhaps, they are the ones who need it the most.

Then, people often glorify what someone might become in the future. They treated a poor guy badly but it turns out that he becomes a successful person in the future. Then they come with this idea: Be kind and nice to everyone, we don’t know who they’ll be in the future. They can be your boss. You might need their help. Etc. Yes, but even if that guy does not become someone in the future, it’s still not okay to treat him badly and with disrespect, right? Whoever that person will be in the future, it doesn’t really matter, because what matters is “have we been kind, nice, and respectful enough to them?”

Me at Brighton Beach.

Look, actually I don’t mind if people have those kinds of reasons to be nice, kind, and respectful. Whatever the reason is, it’s still better to be kind than being rude, arrogant, and disrespectful. However, in addition to being nice, kind, and respectful, I think it’s also important to be sincere about our kindness. It’s kinda upsetting when people are good and kind to us only when we are in a good shape. But when we’re “nobody”, they stay away and even become judgmental.

For that reason, I don’t really like exposing my accomplishments. Not that I have (m)any. But I know some people think of “studying abroad by scholarships” and “traveling to some parts of the world” as a type of achievement. So, yeah, I mean, yes, of course I feel accomplished and proud myself, but I don’t think it’s something to brag about because I don’t see how that is helpful and beneficial for others. Hence, I prefer presenting myself as “nobody”. I think if someone is truly kind and nice, they’ll be kind and nice to us even though we’re nobody. But if their kindness is fake, they’ll usually be nice to us only when they think we are somebody. I had this one experience in the airport. Once, the staff spoke to me with high tone, so not nice and unfriendly. I guess they thought I was one of the Indonesian workers who work abroad, you know those like housemaids. Then, when they found I was actually studying in the US, their attitude changed. They spoke to me nicely. But, oh, please, the damage had been done. I know it’s fake.

Me at St. Kilda beach.

On the other hand, some of the housemaids that I met at the airport treated me nicely. They first thought I was a housemaid like them too. They talked to me nicely and even shared their stories with me. I felt so happy. And when they finally found out that I wasn’t a housemaid (because they asked what I did, where I worked, etc. and I just couldn’t lie…), they seemed to feel sorry and apologize, which was unnecessary. They made no mistake. I was happy that they trusted me and treated me nicely even though they didn’t know I was a student. It made me happy when people felt comfortable with me. I know it can be hard, awkward, and uncomfortable foe many… And there’s actually no a real difference between students and housemaids. I’m not superior than them, and they are in no way less than me. In fact, if we really have to compare, they’re actually the heroines since they work hard and bring money for the country, when I spend my country’s money for my education. I come from a countryside. Some of my aunts and uncles also work abroad as housemaids and hard labors, too. I know some of them work hard to pay off the debts their parents had. Some work hard to build their family a decent house. Some even have to bear being apart from their kids just so they can get the money to send the kids to school. So if somebody is going to look down on them just because they are a housemaid or a hard labor abroad, then that somebody does not deserve my respect.

Hence, I think we’ve gotta be “nobody” to expose one’s true colors. If someone is truly good, kind, and respectful, they’re gonna be good, kind, and respectful towards anyone. If they’re not, they will treat us well only when they think we have “high values”, be it money, look, status, etc. Once they find out we’re not worthy of their “praise,” they’ll turn cruel, showing their true color. But please know that not everyone that we think is of “low value”, either because of their job, how and where they were raised, their socio-economic status, etc. is not always the way they are because they want to and not because they choose or like to, but sometimes it’s simply because they’re forced to be in such condition. They are forced by the situation. I know I might have written this in other posts but I just have to say it again and again: If you’re privileged enough to have more options than them, please be mindful of what you’re gonna say to them or how you treat them. Well, actually be mindful of whatever you say to and however you treat everyone. Everyone has their own battle we know nothing about, and kindness can help make their life easier. Thus, please be kind. We’re human, that’s reason enough.

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