Pleasant. Fine. Acquiescent. Obliging.
That’s the definition of nice…pretty compelling, huh?
And if “nice guys finish last” and “nice girls finish single” are true, why would anyone want to be nice? Plus, if you watch any teen movie, the most popular girls are often the meanest and the nice girls are the ones desperately in need of makeovers.
So maybe it’s time that the word NICE gets a makeover.
I feel incredibly grateful to have a significant following on social media. It allows me to speak my mind, to interact with people from all around the world, to sometimes be sent free clothing and makeup, and even make money from posting a simple picture. If you’ve ever looked at my stories and posts, you would think my life was one endless teen movie — minus the bad parts.
But there are days when just a single nasty comment can bring me one click away from deleting all of my accounts. After all, no matter how many nice comments I get, it’s somehow the “you’re ugly, you’re a bad friend, I hate you” and the other cruel things people say that seem to stick.
And it’s not just the overt slams. A group of girls can slightly turn the backs, edging you out of a conversation. “Friends” can utter endless “inside jokes” and remind you that you weren’t there to share in them. Groups can choose to take that one picture to post the moment you step away – only for a second.
Of course, I’m not the first person to say this. We all know we should be nice…or at least not be mean, right? So, why do we do it? Well, adolescence, (actually life) is complicated. It’s stressful. It’s scary. Friendships aren’t like a sweater that you buy and own forever. Or maybe they are…one minute they’re your favorite piece in your closet and the next they’re tossed thoughtlessly into a pile for Goodwill.
Sometimes being a teenager feels like a kill or be killed world where you have to strike first in fear of getting eaten alive, or we simply follow another’s lead hoping that if we side with them, at least we have a side.
Somehow, we think that if someone else feels bad, or gets left out, or is the object of the “prank” then it means we won’t be. But guess what? It’s the exact opposite. The more you spread anything negative, the more others will feel justified sending it back to you. The more you spread kindness, the stronger your armor becomes. When you are nice, it just gets harder to attack you. Think of it as positive armor, that strengthens you every time you put it on. You will never regret being kind.
We all worry. Every single one of us. About who our true friends are, if we are being a true friend, if someone will have our back, and always save a seat for us, or share a deep secret meant for no one else, or pretend not to see us when we enter the room. We are figuring out who we are, and what that means, and who we want to be. Sometimes that means that friendships change. Sometimes they deepen. Sometimes they end.
Now, I can’t pretend I’ve always been all sunshine and light. I’ve made and will make mistakes. I’ve hurt feelings. I am far from perfect. Aren’t we all sometimes?
But I can say that I never regret having been nice. And I do regret it when I’m not. That’s partly why a group of us started Positively Social. It’s an organization to help teenagers spread kindness online and hopefully offline too. It’s purpose is to show that it’s not just the “you’re ugly” comments that hurt, but also the “forgetting” to tag someone in picture.
Positively Social is about getting people to spread kindness in little ways: through an extra like, a nice comment, or defending someone who is being taken down. And while it started online, we want to take it off as well.
No one is going to be nice every time. We know that. But just like you need to look both ways before you cross the street, we are asking you to pause, just for a second, to think about what you are saying, what you are doing, and what you are posting. Will you regret it? If so, take a second and try maybe, just to be nice.
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