AUGUST 3, 2011
Back in my early teenage years I was sort of a bitch to a lot of people. Like, only wear pink on wednesdays, you can’t have gold hoop earrings because those are *my* thing, trying to make fetch happen, you go glenn coco, total and complete mean girl.
One day in my tenth grade year, while in the midst of being extra bitchalicious to a boy in my French class, it suddenly dawned on me just how awful I had become. I felt horrible. It was in that moment that I decided to adopt a new life mantra – be nice.
In the weeks to come I repeated that mantra obsessively. I lived by that code. Nice was so fetch. If you looked nice up in the dictionary, you would probably see my face smiling back at you.
A year later I met a girl who was always just the nicest to everyone that she met. In fact, you would actually find her face in the dictionary. She became my inspiration. And when I later learned that she actually wasn’t so nice behind your back, I used that as inspiration also. After some minor tweaking my new mantra eventually became – be genuinely nice.
Don’t gossip. Don’t be fake. Treat others as you’d like to be treated. Respect.
By the time I had graduated high school, I had mastered the art of being nice.
It wasn’t until the middle of my freshman year that I realized something terrible – I had become too nice.
Somehow “being genuinely nice” stopped being about treating others with kindness and respect, and became more about overly accommodating everyone at the expense of my own wants and needs. It no longer involved being confident yet humble, but rather obsessing over what someone really thought of me and whether or not they liked me. In my grand pursuit of being the nice girl, I had checked my backbone at the door leaving plenty of space for people to walk all over me. I had not only lost the ability to say no, but I had also lost the ability to stick up for myself.
In other words I had created the nicest monster of all time.
Yet despite the fact that I realized this over three years ago, I still struggle with it every single day. As it turns out the “be less nice” mantra isn’t as effective as it’s sister “be genuinely nice.”
One of the most common adjectives used to describe me is nice. I’ve just really grown to hate that word. Nice. I want nothing to do with it.
Goodbye nice, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
I want to learn how to treat others with respect without compromising respect for myself. I want to accept that not everyone will like me and that trying to be agreeable to every single person I encounter makes me boring and entirely non functional. I want to feel like i have a voice while still respecting the opinions of others.
I just can’t figure out how to accomplish those things. I think the worst is my inability to stick up for myself at times. Whenever I find myself in a confrontational position I don’t know how to handle it. I shut down and lose the ability to form coherent sentences. Spoiler alert: I leave the conversation on the verge of tears and feeling utterly defeated.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I know that I can be mean. As a fairly sarcastic person I occasionally find myself crossing the line in to “too far” territory. But even then I fear that my version of mean and your version of mean are entirely two different things. I’m like the Kathleen Kelly of saying what I mean to say when I mean to say it – I inevitably feel awful once all is said and done.
I don’t know why finding that happy middle ground between nice and mean is so impossible for me, but I do hope I figure it out one day.