Nice to me smells too much like complacent. It feels permissive despite feeling quietly and violently intolerant on the inside. I was once told that I was nice by a group of kids that I probably should not have been hanging around with. Instead, I should have been with my real friends who were undoubtably not shoplifting and graffiting walls after school. Yet, I followed them around looking over my shoulder for the police, an angry manger, or my worst fear, my father. “Why are you hanging around with us anyway?” one of them asked. “You’re a nice girl.” My nice was being quiet instead of saying “what the fuck are you doing?” “You’re smarter than this.”
Flash forward about 5 years, where I am in a relationship that I had long out grown. Every time I went to leave, I was barraged with a guilt trip of what my leaving would do to him. We were young. He went on to survive. However, my late teenaged brain didn’t know that would happen, so I stayed out of niceness. For another 3 years. Eventually my niceness grew into outright anger, which confused him, and I ended up enduring a long and drawn out back in forth until I just decided to move 30 miles away. Running was the nicest thing that I could do.
Flash forward another 5 years where I am employed by a major private corporation. I am the youngest executive in the “junior executive program,” whatever the fuck that means. I am a female in an all boys club. When I speak like a guy would speak with the same innovative ideas that a guy would have, I’m told that I’m “too aggressive”. When another older, male executive takes those same spoken words that I spoke not an hour earlier, he is called a “genius” who is “on the rise”. I decide that I should be nice about it because that is what a nice girl would do.
Flash forward another 5 years, where I am in another relationship that I had long outgrown. I stayed and waited for this man to catch up to my own personal evolution…because I was married, and nice girls stay married. I let him spend all of my money and destroy my credit, because he was “lost” and attempting to “find himself and his passions”, so I let him obsessively find 4 very different and expensive passions, because I was nice. My niceness receded to deep resentment, and I felt guilty for that because nice girls shouldn’t be resentful. Guilt and resentment are not friendly emotions to have hanging around your inner being. It instead leads to a ridiculous spectacle of a relationship ending.
Flash forward another 5 years, where I began to see that my niceness was bullshit. I found that it was a cover up for not wanting to rock the boat. Rather, not wanting the responsibility for fall out and the anger that people will undoubtedly have for those that rock the boat. I didn’t tell those kids to stop their destructive patterns because who wants to be painted as a “goody goody”? I did not want these men mad at me enough to do the leaving first because what if they were “the one” and I send them packing because I wasn’t nice enough? I didn’t want my bosses mad at me for speaking up for myself, because what if I lost my job? Would I then be a goody goody that is forever single and unemployed? Or could I have been a positive influence who values interdependent relationships and who is assertive in word and action in the work place?
You see, growing up “do not embarrass me” was the underlying theme. “Be nice, be a lady” was the other, which are not bad themes. Unless you are me and are very anal-lytical and see no in between. So nice I was with a heaping pile of passive aggressive and a side order of underlying resentment. Passive aggressive people often feel powerless and often avoid change. My catering to being nice took away my power. Both my personal power, as well as my power to actively participate in change. I had learned to suffocate my true voice by smothering it under niceness, because my true voice is anything but nice. It is powerful. It is loud. It gets attention, and sometimes it gets the wrong kind of attention from those that are just as loud and just as powerful but are loud and powerful for the wrong reasons. For those people, my true voice is full of challenges. To them and to the status quo, because often the status quo is not altruistic. No, I am not nice. Nice is bullshit. Nice puts you in a position of having to be fine with things that you are not fine with. My motto now is “I am only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand.” Which is the truth. The truth that ensures that I will never be called nice again. What I AM is kind. I AM compassionate. I AM loving. I AM authentic. I AM truthful. I AM also assertive, but still working on diplomacy. Those blow “nice” completely out of the water.
The bottom line is don’t be “nice”. And if the boat begs to be rocked, rock the shit out of that boat.