By CJ

2018 marks the 10 year anniversary of my high school graduation.

Some of you reading this will think, “Dear Lord you’re old,” while others will scoff at that number and start with, “back in my day….” However, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my first 10 years of adulthood and I keep coming back to one thing I learned in high school that I use on a daily basis.

Nice matters.

While I do use the English language, basic elementary math skills, and science here and there, those aren’t the most important things I learned in school.

Actually, the most important thing I learned in school is to simply be nice because, “nice matters.”

My high school theatre teacher, Mrs. Reeder, was not only my drama teacher, but also the mother of my best friend. I spent a lot of mornings before school in her classroom goofing around and outside of school, my friend Spencer and I would go to anime conventions where Mrs. Reeder would drive us because we were 14 or we’d have video game nights at Spencer’s house and Mrs. Reeder would always have vanilla coke because it was our favorite.

cj mrs reeder The Best Thing I Learned In School Has Nothing To Do With Text Books

CJ and Mrs. Reeder

She was and still to this day is, a very insightful woman with a passion for finding the beauty in the world.

She, along with my high school chorus teacher Mrs. Atkinson, are two educators I will never forget as long as I live.

graduation mrs a The Best Thing I Learned In School Has Nothing To Do With Text Books

CJ, Kate, Mrs. Atkinson

Both women taught me important lessons outside of their required fields of education. I not only overcame stage fright and won accolades for my acting and vocal abilities, but I also learned valuable life lessons from both of them.

The number one thing we heard day in and day out, aside from “why don’t you know your lines” or “you were a bit pitchy…” was “nice matters.” And boy is it true.

Life will test us. We become adults and society feeds us to the wolves and our reputation and life lessons are defined not by the outcome of situations, but how we handle our selves during those trying times.

Win or lose, your attitude is what people remember. Trophies break, medals rust, pictures tear and fade, but memories last a lifetime and I know, at least for myself, I always want to be remembered as the nice guy.

Sure, I can credit my parents for a lot of my traits and personality, but I honestly think both Mrs. Reeder and Mrs. Atkinson taught me the most valuable lesson of my educational career, and that is that nice matters.

With a new year comes a new outlook. Compare less. Learn more. Post less. Live more. Argue less. Empathize more. Hate less. Love more.

If you feel your 2017 was awful, think about those times when you were at a crossroads of choosing to argue and demean people, or understand and talk things out.

I can honestly attest, that if we stop comparing ourselves to what we see on TV or social media and learn to embrace who we are and love all of our flaws and differences, life would be so much more enjoyable and a lot less dark.

When placed in those situations where you have two choices, to be negative or to be kind, always choose kindness, because at the end of the day, nice matters.

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