I’ve always been the ‘nice’ girl. ‘Nice’ is exactly the adjective people used to describe me. While there are certainly better things to be known as, there are also certainly worse things in the world to be called.
In many ways, I take pride in being a nice person. I want to brighten people’s days when I can. I want to do nice things for other people. Being nice just feels right to me. Yet as much as most times I feel good about being nice, sometimes, it can also be my biggest flaw.
I find myself stressing over whether people like me. I fret over being just the right amount of nice so significantly that I will obsess over how I come across to others, down to how I sound in an email that simply says, “Yes, thanks.”
Sometimes, my kindness even traps me into avoiding negative situations, even if that means I’ll suffer more for it later. Other times, I’m nice to people who truly don’t deserve my kindness and I end up feeling crushed. I’m nice to a fault, it’s hurting me, and I need to fix that.
So here are some (hopefully) helpful reminders about what it means to be nice — if for no one other than for myself!
Being nice and being honest don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
As the old saying goes, sometimes the truth hurts. But having to hurt someone’s feelings is one of my worst nightmares. So, as tempting as it may be, don’t try to skirt around the truth in an attempt to protect someone’s feelings. Most times, all we’re doing is making things harder for ourselves in the long run. If an acquaintance you don’t exactly like invites you to a party and you say yes (to spare her feelings), she’ll probably invite you out again – and then your problem is even bigger than it was. Telling the hard truth now is far kinder than attempting to soften the blow and inevitably making a situation more difficult later.
Being nice shouldn’t come with a catch.
When extending a hand to someone, we shouldn’t expect that this hand will be similarly extended to us. Would it be ideal if everyone we were kind to also reciprocated? Of course! Alas, that’s not always how life works. Instead, we should learn to be kind to people just for the sake of being kind, not because we’ve come to expect something in return.
Being nice doesn’t mean being a pushover.
Showing kindness doesn’t have to mean we always say “yes.” I have trouble remembering this and sometimes find myself saying “yes” to everyone but myself. Yes, I’ll go to your birthday (even though I don’t know you well). Yes, I’ll help you move (even though I had other plans that weekend). Yes, I’ll cover for you at work (even though I’m already swamped with my own stuff). When we do these things, we typically end up regretting them later. We have to remember that standing up for ourselves is not the same as being a pushover. It’s okay to speak up.
Being nice doesn’t mean extending kindness to those who are cruel.
I have a difficult time turning my “nice” off, so sometimes I end up being kind to people even when I know they have a tendency to lash out at me. I end up confused, embarrassed, and (of course) hurt. More than that, I end up angry for allowing myself to fall into their trap again and again. It’s okay to protect ourselves by not extending our kindness for people who, well, are mean.
Being nice doesn’t mean putting others before you.
In fact, sometime the kindest thing you can do is put yourself first. So when you’re out there, being nice to everyone else, make sure you’re kind to yourself, too. You deserve it.