I was recently chatting with a friend on the phone and mid-way through the conversation, my friend responds...
FRIEND: Well Trav, you aren't very nice...
After a short pause on the line, I couldn't help but think to myself... Wait, what? I feel like I've heard this before. I immediately started reflecting upon all the random bits of help/positivity that I have given friends, family, and even strangers over my lifetime. Then, I weighed those against all of the 'shitty' things I've done to people like forgetting about dinner dates, or leaving them stranded in foreign countries, etc.
Considering the fact that I look at everything rather logically, I couldn't help but soak in the fact that "sounds like people don't think I'm nice"... basically that means I'm an asshole... OUCH! I mean, there are NICE people out there and there are NOT NICE people out there. Evidently, I am NOT NICE?
I must admit that came as a bit of a blow to my ego and now that our conversation took a rather dramatic turn, I had to probe further on this one...
ME: What do you mean exactly? I'm not a NICE person?
FRIEND: Well, you can be nice, but you have NO FILTER Trav.
OK, now we are getting somewhere here in the conversation... I have no problem swallowing my pride and accepting criticism from others. In fact, I welcome criticism with open arms. I am constantly seeking knowledge and if I am wrong, or if there is a better way to do something out there, a method with 'less friction', I'm usually all for it.
FRIEND: Even if you think you are trying to help someone, your responses can be very short, cryptic, and sometimes hardcore... this turns people off!
ME: But I'm just trying to help people by sharing my insights in hopes that it may alleviate their problems.
FRIEND: Well, most people just take your criticism as you being an asshole.
ME: Ohhhhh, I see...
I know that people are sensitive and 'compassion' is something that I truly lack at times. I will be the first to admit that I have "Trump Syndrome" and shit just flies out of my mouth, and sometimes it's not very NICE. But anyone who knows me WELL will understand that I simply process things very quickly from all angles and I speak the thoughts that come to mind without thinking about how to word things in a 'nice' way because I assume people are adults who can handle the truth.
ME: So, are you also saying I'm not a very nice friend? I think I'm the coolest friend you could possibly ever have and I am VERY loyal to my friends and family!
FRIEND: True, you are an extremely generous friend, but not everyone gets to see that side of you.
I must admit that this is true, I'm not 'nice' to 'most people' that I come into contact with throughout average days. This is something that I probably do need to work on, but now that we are on the subject of me being an asshole, let's simply run with it here for a minute and outline more items.
I realize that I rarely carry on conversations with strangers because after decades of living in downtown San Francisco, I have learned the hard way that my starting a conversation with any 'stranger' can quickly lead to me buying them and their whole family BART tickets to Concord while I wheel their crippled grandmother down to the BART platform myself while late to my important meeting. And as shitty as it is to say this... I simply value my time too much to help randoms these days which is most definately a cop-out.
Another dick move is I RARELY remember birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, etc. I don't use Social Media, therefore I hardly even know what day today is, much less know when to say "Happy Birthday" which is kind of pathetic on my part.
Something else that's probably annoying is that when I am hanging out with other people, I may not actually 'be with them'. For example, I have had full-blown parties and even vacations with friends where I may be physically there with them, but I am mentally somewhere else entirely in my mind. Even though I may be carrying on lengthy conversations,the words dribbling from their mouths simply flow in one ear and right out my other as I stare off into space solving some quantum quagmire or other. This is also probably not very 'nice'.
In general though, when I am with people that I know well and when I am in good spirits and not mentally 'elsewhere', I can be very sociable and rather 'pleasant' to hang out with. After hearing my friend remind me that I could be a LOT nicer to ALL people, this is something I will begin to attempt wholeheartedly.
I have also come to the realization that not everyone likes to hear the TRUTH, especially about THEMSELVES. Therefore, it's probably best for me to keep my 'criticisms' to myself and let everyone live out their merry little lives on their own, hoping they will hear my truths elsewhere in the universe and accept them at another time to improve their lives/existence.
Bottom line is that I truly am here to help others (+planet), and I can be a 'team player'. But I will NOT let go of my principles, nor let my guard down simply to 'appease the masses'. This little social experiment of me being 'nice' will be a bit of a balancing act for me and something I will attempt to be more conscious of throughout my days.