Avital Blass
Avital Blass Thursday 9.7.15 No comments 2270 views

I was too nice

 

It ended for us when he told me that I was too nice. I couldn't fall asleep that night. I didn’t want to break up, but after that conversation, it didn’t seem right to continue.  A day later, we sat on his balcony with two beers and I told him that I thought he was right; I am too nice, for him.

It ended for us, but something new began for me.  That sentence continued to gnaw at me. When I was still thinking about it a few months later, I realized that he must have touched upon something true, and I decided to try and figure it out. Was he right – am I too nice? What does that even mean? Isn't being nice a good thing, like we were taught as children?  Too messy, too lazy, too demanding – that type of criticism I could totally understand, but how can someone be too nice?

Sharing, helping others, being kind and smiling all are values that have been instilled in most of us since kindergarten, especially as girls/women.  But where is the line drawn between being nice, polite and kind, and being TOO nice? When and why did I cross that line?  

"You'd look prettier if you smiled" is a common remark, mostly directed at girls. Women are often made to believe by family, media, school and friends that in order to be liked, they must be nice. Stop being nice = stop being liked.

Maybe the line is drawn when being nice equals trying too hard to make people like you, and in the process, losing your own identity. Thinking, will he still like me when I'm not smiley, cheerful and agreeable, but tired and grumpy?  

 Maybe it's when being nice means suppressing true emotions instead of being honest. Avoiding feelings that should be expressed, such as anger, disappointment or tiredness, just to avoid hurting someone else.

Maybe it's when you think it’s selfish to ask for what you want, or even allow yourself to think of wanting better.

I think the line is drawn when, in order to be nice to others, you forget to be nice to yourself.

When I was honest with myself, I realized that in general, and especially in relationships, I make a big effort to avoid confrontations or imperfection. Being nice guarantees that I will be liked by many people – “Oh, that Avital, isn't she a nice one to be around.” I realized that maintaining this image of a happy, fun and perfect person was so important to me that in the process, I was losing out on truly feeling happy and truly having fun.

This year, I decided to embark on a personal project of not being nice. It's a weird project, but I had to try it to see how it felt.  I started by saying “yes” only when I meant it, admitting that I was angry sometimes and expressing my opinions even when I wasn’t quite sure that they were what the other side wanted to hear. Listening to my intuition and being honest was my guiding principle. I was scared of the price I would pay while doing this, but surprisingly, it felt pretty great.

When I learned to say “no,” I was simultaneously saying “yes” to something I value more. When I knew how to say “no,” my “yes” became a real, honest “yes.” When I learned to say what I actually wanted, I felt that I had a better chance of obtaining it. When I began being more genuine with people and saying what I meant even when it included criticism, people began to value my opinion more and believe my compliments as well.

I met this guy again a few weeks ago at a big event I organized. At first, I didn’t even feel like saying hi, but then I felt that I owed him a “thank you.” I approached him, and after the standard chitchat, told him that his remark had made a great impact on me. Whether he meant it well, or not, or didn’t even care about my feelings when he said it (I assume C), it forced me to be honest with myself and make a change.

I didn’t entirely give up being kind or polite, but I'm learning when it’s harmful and when other behavior is better. It is obviously a process, and not every situation in life is appropriate for "not being nice," but in general, I feel it’s a good change.

 So yes, this change means that some people won't like me and won't think I'm perfect. But that’s okay, because I'm really far from perfect. It’s more than just okay, because I have other things going for me!

 

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