Notes on the Journey

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Welcome to the Real

Nice.  We often use the term "nice" to describe someone.  What does that term really mean?  The dictionary describes "nice" as:  pleasant in manner, good-natured, kind, polite.  Nice is a term rather like "interesting."  We often use it when we're either not able to be, or don't want to be, more specific.  For example:  "I didn't really like that movie, but there were some interesting things in it."  God forbid, anyone should press me for what the interesting things were.  I'd have to get really creative at that point.

Nice can also mean bland, or unimpressionable.  It's a type of cover-all description.  It's a rather amorphous term.  Vague in its meaning.  We don't usually use it to describe exciting people, or exceptional people, even though they might be good-natured and polite.  Often, I've noticed that we say someone is nice as a way to compensate for something else we've said about them that's not the most positive.  For example:  "I didn't find him/her very engaging, but he/she seemed nice."  Who cares if they're nice at that point?  We've already decided we're done with them.

We often think someone who is spiritual is also nice.  Or, that if they're spiritual, they should be nice as well.  Really?  I don't think so.  I've known people I thought were very spiritual, but who I would not describe as nice.  Someone who is forthcoming with the truth is not always thought of as nice.  Someone who doesn't suffer fools very well is not always thought of as nice.  Someone who is quick-minded and witty is not always thought of as nice.  Exceptionally intelligent or creative people are not always thought of as nice.  Anyone who doesn't react or respond the way we think they should will probably not be considered nice.

Nice people often let others get away with inappropriate or unacceptable behavior.  Nice people don't like confrontation.  Nice people don't call others on their untruths or lacks of integrity.  Nice people put up with disrespectful behavior.  Nice people make excuses for other peoples lapses.  Nice people do most of the work and don't complain.  Nice people don't stand up for themselves.  Nice people let others go first.  Nice people don't get angry.  Nice people don't set boundaries.  What do you think makes a nice person?  What attributes would someone have who you would consider to be nice?  Who do you think is a nice person and why?

The dictionary used the word "kind" as a descriptive for nice.  I disagree.  I don't think someone who is nice is also kind.  You could be very blunt and brisk, which are usually not attributes of someone considered nice, and still be kind.  Kindness has nothing to do with being nice.  And, if someone was kind, I wouldn't describe them as nice, I would specifically use the term "kind" as the descriptive.

Nice people tend to be people-pleasers.  "Oh, I couldn't do that, it wouldn't be nice."  But, often the thing that "wouldn't be nice" is the thing that, if done, would set a boundary; or, exhibit strength of character; or, stop abusive behavior.  The thing that "wouldn't be nice" would be truthful, or direct, or confrontational.  Nice people are often not truthful, because they're too concerned about hurting someone else's feelings to be truthful.  Nice people are not often direct.  And, nice people are rarely, if ever, confrontational.

I would be considered a nice person on many counts and by many people.  I've always tried to be nice at the expense of:  what I really need or want; being truthful; standing up for myself; setting boundaries; and, ultimately, at the expense of myself on many levels.  I'm guilty of all the things I've listed that nice people are or do.  But, I'm tired of being nice.  As long as I'm retiring from script supervising, I think I'll retire from being nice as well.  Why not?  Enough of being nice.  Now, I just want to be authentic.

I don't care about pleasing anyone but myself at this point.  I'm tired of worrying more about other people's feelings than I do about my own.  This is one of the advantages of getting older, you get too tired to keep up the illusions and masks you wore when you were younger.  You let go of a lot of ideas and behaviors in favor of authenticity.  You're past caring what other people think.  It takes too much energy to be anything other than direct.  It's so much easier to deal with things directly in the moment than to sidestep them in favor of someone else's feelings.  I feel better when I deal with things truthfully in the moment.  And, by doing that, I can let them go and move on instead of carrying them around.

So, no more Mr. Nice Guy, as the saying goes...even though I'm female.  Now, things just are what they are.  Like it or don't like it, it doesn't matter to me.  Mess with me at your own peril.  I'm not holding anything back these days.  Ask me a question, you're going to get the truth, even if it's not what you wanted to hear.  The days of glossing over other people's bad behavior and rationalizing excuses are gone.  Now, it's welcome to the real, and what a relief that is.    


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