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Friday, February 27, 2015

Mr. Nice Guy

I have to admit that I have had a whole lot of things on the go these past few days, and when it comes to coming up with topics for discussion this week, I haven't had a whole lot of time to think about it.

But that's not me making any excuses.  I've genuinely had a lot of good things happen to me this year.  And to think that we're only about to enter March in a couple of days.

So, I have to come up with a topic that is quick and easy.  Maybe I might even go through my archives to find something that I talked about some time ago...just to see if it's still relevant today.

I suppose you can call today a "WHO AM I" flashback.

Ah, yes.  Here's an entry I wrote just before I began this blog.  It was originally posted on my Facebook Notes section on March 7, 2011.  It still holds true today.

It seems to me that during my almost thirty years of living that my personality has somewhat evolved over the course of that time frame. You've heard of the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. I truly believe that the same applies to the vessel known as a human body and its inner workings and thoughts. I believe that we are all individual works of art and that we all have a thousand words that can be appropriately matched to every one of us.

There's some words that describe me that I am proud to have in my glossary. Smart. Funny. Great Writer. Embraces Colour.

Some words are kind of on the borderline, depending on how I may be feeling. Hardworking, for instance. I pride myself on my work ethic, but not when people take advantage of it.

There are even a few words that I suppose could describe me that I wish I could delete from the dictionary of Matthew W. Turcotte. Procrastination. Fear. Blame.

But, the wonderful thing about life is that one can have the power to add and subtract words from their own books of life depending on the actions they take. It may take me until my final epilogue before the white-out successfully erases any traces of negativity, but that is life. It constantly updates itself accordingly when the time comes. Heck, if you compare life to printings of a certain textbook, I'm about to enter my thirtieth edition, which is different from edition one, ten, fifteen, and even twenty-nine.

But, going back to the idea that we can all be described with a thousand words, there are some words that seem to describe us through several months, years, or even decades of our lives. Words that no matter how hard we try to erase them from our books, they seem to stick around like permanent marker. Words that will always seem to be associated with us no matter how hard we try to whitewash it. Rachael Ray will always be associated with food. Ellen DeGeneres will always be associated with dancing. Jeff Probst will always be associated with “The Tribe Has Spoken”.

As for me, there seems to be two words that a lot of people around me have used to describe me and my personality. Two words that I have heard almost my whole life. Two words that have inspired me to write a note all about it.

The two words that seem to always stick with me is...nice guy.

That's it. Nothing strong. Masculine. Out of the ordinary.

Just...nice guy.

And, honestly, there were some instances in which I wasn't sure if that was necessarily a good thing to be remembered for.

I'm sure everyone here has heard of the saying “nice guys finish last.” I recall when I first joined Facebook back in late 2007, there was a little bit of a copy/paste note flying around that had that very title. I managed to read the whole thing, and basically, it was saying that so-called “nice guys” were slowly turning into jerks because there aren't a whole lot of people who can truly appreciate nice guys.

At the time, I kind of scoffed at the article, thinking it was written by some prepubescent seventeen year old teeny-bopper who was just dumped by their significant other and was venting about it in a note that somehow managed to spread all over the Internet. But, as time went on, I kept thinking about the article, and asked myself the question “is this really the truth?”

Before all of you come to the conclusion that I may have completely lost my mind, think again.

In some cases, the people who are deemed the so called “nice guys” or “girls next door”, or something similar seem like people you could easily get along with. But, I know for a fact that my “nice guy” status in the past was more of a detriment than an asset.

Years ago, I remember being the kid who would freely help other people out with class assignments, art projects, helping people fix up their spelling mistakes. I even remember bringing yummy snacks for morning recesses and sharing them with other kids, in hopes that my generosity would pay off. Unfortunately, quite the opposite happened. Quite a few of the kids I would help with their homework ended up taking advantage of me. In some cases, I'd end up doing their whole assignment for them, or I'd purposely let them copy my answers, or I'd end up giving them my whole supply of Rainbow Chips Ahoy cookies. All because I thought that the more that I gave them, the more they would reciprocate.

Yeah, that never happened. Instead, I was left with other kids getting credit for the work I did. I was left being segregated to a corner in the back of the classroom so kids couldn't copy off of my paper. If I was lucky, I was left with a blue chocolate chip from the cookies I ended up giving away to kids who would bully me the very next day.

Would you not blame me for being left with a bitter taste in my mouth after having experiences like that? In that sense, especially during my formulative years, being the nice guy seemed to get me nowhere. In fact, it kind of made my school years more difficult.

Of course, this seems like such a minor example, and in a sense it is. But, sometimes, nice guy status doesn't have to involve store bought cookies to invoke feelings of angst and frustration.

There's nothing that pisses me off more than seeing people get bullied or harassed by others. Of course, by now, you all know this about me by now. What makes me especially see shades of crimson and scarlet through my vision is seeing people get abused and taken advantage of by other people just for being the type of person who doesn't like conflict or who can't fight back. It really is something that I have experienced before, and it isn't right at all.

I know this may not be the best example here, but whenever I watch any movie or television show where there seems to be a blatant conflict of good versus evil, I always cringe whenever the evil side seems to gain an advantage over the good. Seeing nice people shoved into lockers, or seeing nice people beat up in parking lots, or seeing nice people get tormented by mind games and abuse. It really makes me want to scream at the television set begging the nice people to stop being nice and do something to stand up to them.

Relationships are another sore spot with me. Not necessarily because of the fact that any of the ones I have had haven't really had a whole lot of significance out there, but because there are so many nice people out there in this world who are with partners who physically, emotionally, sexually, and psychologically abuse them on a day-to-day basis, and just hearing all the stories about people who have had to go through that makes me ill. I know that people everywhere would not stay in a relationship where there is a lot of toxic behaviour, but some of the best people in the world end up trapped because they are either too afraid to leave the relationship, or they've been conditioned by their abusive partner that nobody else would ever love them. For someone to even think that about themselves is heartbreaking. And, you know, I just wish that anyone who has been in an abusive relationship, or who is currently in a relationship with someone who is abusive to them know that there is something better out there if they allow themselves to tell themselves that they are worth it.

Now, as I said before, I've never been in a romantic relationship with someone who physically and emotionally abused me, and I certainly hope that I never am. But, when I was growing up, it almost seemed that being the nice guy meant that I would always be seen as the second best choice in comparison to the more popular, arrogant, classless people who could get whatever they wanted when they wanted it.

Basically, I thought that maybe if I wasn't so nice, I could actually succeed more in life. That maybe if I was a little more arrogant, and cared a little less about people and their feelings that miraculously enough, I would get more respect.

Turns out the only conclusion that I can draw up about my thoughts back then was that I was wrong. Very, very, wrong.

But, it wasn't until only recently that I started to realize how wrong I was.

Over the years, I managed to develop my personality more and more, but try as I might, I couldn't become the mean Simon Cowell-esque son of a bitch that I thought would get me respect. I reluctantly kept up my nice guy status. I mean, I had lived that way for so long, so I may as well have decided to continue to be the nice one, no matter how much I wished in certain situations that I wasn't.

But, then I got sick, and had to get emergency surgery. And, just days after the surgery, I realized just how being the “nice guy” can pay off. I mean, I had so many people call me asking me if I was okay, and there were lots of people who went out of their way to cheer me up with visits, and cards, and flowers. The card that was signed by at least a hundred of my co-workers actually made me choke up a little because I was touched that so many people actually wanted me to get better. And, those feelings were absolutely genuine and filled with love, and it just dawned on me that had I might not have gotten the same attention had I decided years ago that I would become not so nice.

The fact of the matter is that there were plenty of opportunities where I could have become bitter or jaded. I know in my life, I've had plenty of moments where I have felt that way, but I've never seemed to let that bitterness take over my whole life. Do I wish that things could be different? Sometimes. But, I also know that this incident cemented the idea that maybe being the “nice guy” can be a good thing. In fact, I think for me, it may be the two words that I'm actually proud to have describing me.

I mean, it takes so much effort to be angry, bitter, and cruel. But, if there's anything I learned from my risky surgery, sometimes being nice is enough. I know that when push came to shove, I had a core group of people who liked me for who I am, and who were genuinely concerned about me and my well-being, and it really opened up my eyes.

I no longer feel shame in being the “nice guy”. Really, the only thing I feel like I regret about it is the fact that in the past, I never really had the opportunity to put myself out there more, because in a way, I feel as though I cheated myself out of a few opportunities at true happiness, joy, and love even.

I'm more than willing to make up for that now.

And, maybe...just maybe...this nice guy will finish first for once.

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