• Brian Nguyen

The Adult Version of Respect

I rode my motorcycle to my favorite Indian restaurant to meet with my friends. The meal was great, but that's not the point of this blog post. When I went to pay, the young (probably 16) impressionable cashier told me, “You look like a man’s man.”

I was taken aback, never hearing that, but I said, “uhh what?”

His exact words, “yeah man, I see you riding in here sometimes and you just look cool and confident, a man with respect. Any tips?” I’ve never received any compliment like that in my life and to tell you what it’s one of the best compliments I think I could have ever gotten. I don’t need my over inflated ego to get any bigger but it did get me to think though… What is respect?

Respect is one of those things we learn at a young age what it is, however it’s something we forget and take for granted. “Respect is the golden rule, treat others how you wish to be treated.” It’s so simple when you put it like that. But… what if you don’t respect yourself and even like yourself. Does that give you an excuse to be horrible to others? I guess in a way if you don’t like yourself, you tend to be disrespectful to others natural. The more I spend time in life, the more I realize that we’re just projecting who we really are onto others subconsciously and not being in the moment with who we are.

Respect, or rather the chase of, has ruled my life and honestly I think it rules everyone’s life. We all want to feel accepted and to be admired in some way. The search never ends and people go to great lengths to obtain it. Mutual respect for each other means love and acceptance of that person. From the urban environments to high risk business meetings, respect could mean success and failure. It is why all cultures teach the importance of it and how to work with it in today’s standards.

Women, racial minorities, survivors, those who lost themselves and so many more have fought for years to gain respect. Respect is interesting because it basically means that we accept this person in our norms. I come from a very urban neighborhood, so it’s not uncommon to feel less respect for an individual with a different financial background than me, and vice versa, however, I do feel respect if it’s someone who has come up from a lower status and built their way up. We respect those that persevere through the roughest hardships and make the most out of their lives, not those that were already born with significant advantages.

Which brings me back to another point. We need to build ourselves and develop ourselves. We never stop growing throughout, even if we become experts in any field. In this day and age ideas and people evolve overnight and fade to obscurity the next day. We may have to reinvent ourselves at a days notice, but if we refuse to adapt with the changing environment then we’ll be left in the dust and become those angry bitter elders we have grown to despise.

We all come from some time of hardship, and that's not wrong. I embrace the pain I’ve experienced and with that pain I’ve been able to make something amazing out of life and appreciate it. Like the Dao, one cannot know light without dark. I’m happy to know true darkness, so now I can appreciate moments of light. We all have our own struggles, but we can overcome them.

Remember what I said. Respect is about accepting someone in our norms. When we can connect on human struggle we finally develop a norm with each other. And when we overcome those, we develop an immense respect for each other, but most importantly ourselves.

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