I’m a Nice Person. Which means I stick with that “kinder than necessary” adage. Which means I see it as my job to see other people’s feelings when I consider my own. Before I consider my own. Instead of considering my own.
Niceness, one would think, is a good thing. But I will tell you, and I’d imagine other Nice People out there will tell you, that it isn’t always a good thing. You see, Nice People don’t act out of anger. But we still get upset. You just don’t know it, because we won’t tell you. And if (but hopefully WHEN), you sense you did something wrong and apologize to a Nice Person, we’ll say, “Oh, that’s okay.”
Because Nice People? We MAKE it okay for ourselves. We tell ourselves that you meant well when you accepted our invitation, then forgot about it. That you were just being snappy with us because things aren’t going well for you in your life. We tell ourselves that you cut us off in line at the supermarket because you just weren’t thinking.
Sometimes, Nice People get brave. Which means that we really are angry and frustrated, but we’ll try and let you know in our Nice way. We’ll communicate that we’re not totally happy about things, but we’ll try and make sure you feel okay about yourself too.
The problem is, Nice People expect that same treatment in return. And when we don’t get that same treatment, it surprises us. Shocks us. Saddens us. And yes, angers us.
The other day, I got angry. I mean really angry. I mean, I-can’t-believe-I’m-this-upset-and-are-my-hands-actually-shaking?-angry.
Well, I figured it was about time to really BE angry. I figured, I’ve borne the brunt of so many other people’s feelings, insecurities and misgivings. Isn’t it my turn to let somebody else carry that weight? Time to share the wealth.
So I responded in anger. To tell you the truth, if I read the transcript of what I said, it probably wasn’t all that venomous. It’s like the do-gooder who thinks she’s swearing when she says “underwear.” I used my “I-feel” statements. There was no profanity, no name-calling. And it was a sentiment whose time, truly, had come.
Yet I had a pit in my stomach all day long. It felt completely out of character for me, and felt incredibly wrong. If bad behavior from others shocks me, bad behavior from myself shocks me even more.
Here’s the catch. Who’s to say I behaved badly? Who’s to say I was doing anything more than being honest? And who’s to say I’m better off absorbing all that anger and pretending things were still okay?
A Nice Person would apologize. And believe me, I thought about it. After all, I’m a Nice Person. I’m supposed to make things better. Problem is, I’ve BEEN making it better, and I’ve been making it better at a cost to my own well-being.
So guess what? This time, I won’t apologize for airing my feelings, even if things get messy. Even if, in this situation, I don’t feel Nice.
As scary as it sounds, maybe it’s time to redefine Nice.
Are there other Nice People out there always making things okay, but not really? Other Nice People who have found a balance between consideration for others and kindness to self? Any Not-So-Nice, or Mostly-Nice People who see things differently? Have you learned something today, as I have? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
Yeah…that would be Nice.