Is being too nice messing with your life?3/05/2014
Hey, would you like to spend your life being inconvenienced? Any takers? You might be answering yes to this question a lot more than you think. Let me just clear up what I consider being "nice". Being nice is not the same thing as being kind or thoughtful. To me, being nice is a the absence of honouring one's feelings and desires. I think of it as the slippery slope towards being a pushover and being way too passive which can get you abused, taken advantage of, underestimated and disrespected.
Women are generally brought up to be nice even when they shouldn't be so anything "not nice" is bitch territory. This scale barely leaves any room for someone to function between the two. I'd like to say society has changed but it hasn't. I read an article comparing and contrasting different gender approaches to submitting work. The guys went in guns blazing and the women basically apologized for existing. Being nice isn't unique to your personal life alone, it will trickle into your professional life and can cause people to subconsciously find you weak, oblivious and easy to exploit. You'll get fewer opportunities and will be rewarded less, if at all.
I spent my life being nice. It starts out pretty chill, you agree to do something that sounds lame or you let your friend go ahead of you. No problem, that's totally normal and I was always happy to compromise. Unfortunately, if you're like me, it starts to snowball into something exhausting because you don't keep tabs on these harmless habits. I fooled myself into thinking that everyone else was also game to compromise so I didn't keep track of how often I wasn't doing things on my terms. I somehow allowed my life to morph into a joke of apologizing about everything, giving things away to people because they wanted them, being stuck with tasks I didn't have time for, paying whenever someone skimped on a bill, letting people take credit for my work or staying quiet when someone insulted me because "maybe they had a bad day" - that's only the tip of the ice berg. I slowly began to resent the little things I'd usually have no problem saying "yes" to. Being too nice got me passed over, written off, deemed a dimwit and having a girl I'd just met rip my purse out of my hands to fish for R20 because my "no" wasn't convincing enough. Fun times. What a nice girl I was living the good life!
Now I know some people are just difficult and changing my approach won't stop them but I, like many girls I know, gave too much and put myself in those kinds of situations. We all know giving isn't about keeping score, it's about being selfless, not feeling owed. I really think though, that we need to modify the idea of who to give to. We need to give to the right people because when we let everyone have their way and give nothing to ourselves, we're left with nada or something we don't want and eventually we won't be very helpful to anyone. Overextending yourself means you won't have it in you to give anymore because you realize that in the midst of being so accommodating, your priorities have fallen by the wayside and you've become burnt out. The habit of being agreeable is intensely difficult to break because everyone is used to the way things were and they don't respond very well to the new change in your behaviour. People will continue to make requests which may make you feel frustrated to accept or guilty to deny. This cycle will easily continue: feel guilty, give, feel frustrated, say no next time, feel guilty. Sometimes after a particularly unpleasant experience there's a bonus step in there called 'lash out and overreact'.
I'm happy to say I'm not letting niceness interfere with my life anymore. Now, I'm not advocating becoming selfish or playing the victim. I just want people who feel that they're too nice to be kinder to themselves and get what they want more of the time. My next personal post is a continuation on this topic and includes tips on how to stop being too nice and start embracing your inner Sasha Fierce instead. If you're interested, do check it out next week. Till then, x