I am not a nice person, but I AM incredibly kind. I don’t like the idea of “nice”. I don’t tell my children to be nice, I tell them to be kind. What is nice, anyway? I know what the dictionary definition of nice is, but the social form of “nice” has moved away from the actual meaning.
I think, these days, “nice” means not telling the truth because it might offend someone, not asserting your needs because some people don’t like “abrasive”, and walking on egg shells.
I am not that kind of nice.
I’ve learned, over the years, to censor myself a bit more. I’ve learned to make empathy a priority and to put myself in other’s shoes. For the longest time asserting my needs was so hard for me. I hated feeling like I was hurting someone, inconveniencing someone, or getting in the way. I wanted to be “nice.” That kind of pressure that forces you to ignore your own needs builds resentment. I worked hard, in therapy, to learn how to be assertive without being emotionally violent or aggressive. I learned how to build myself up to a healthy place of emotional entitlement. This is the place where you KNOW that you must take care of yourself and can’t be persuaded otherwise. As a child who was groomed to be responsible for other people, this was a hard task for me.
Years later, I feel such a sense of pride of how well I am learning to take care of myself. Taking care of yourself (and as a parent, by extension your children’s needs) sometimes means you aren’t always “nice”. Sometimes I have to tell people uncomfortable things like, “that doesn’t work for me” ” I can’t dot that for you” or “that is not okay”. It doesn’t feel good to wonder if people think you are “mean” or have people say so blatantly. Sometimes, taking care of your needs means you are going to hurt people’s feelings…and maybe even make them cry. Sometimes you might lose friends, though it stands to reason true and functional friends can hang with you as your learn to negotiate your needs in healthy ways.
I’ve moved beyond the phase of my life where I need to feel like I am a nice person, if being nice means having to compromise my own emotional health.
Do you struggle with being “nice”? What forms has that taken in your life. Do you choose YOUR wellness over the title of “nice”?