Voices around me, and those inside my head, have been giving me a hard time lately. I keep hearing that I’m too nice, a pushover, that it’s pure comedy to watch me attempt to be stern, and a lot more little jewels that have been pounding on my brain like driving rain on a garbage can lid.
I have never, ever considered myself too nice, which may be why I try extra hard to make sure I’m not rude. I realize now, that my attempts to not be a sarcastic bitch may have turned me into a pile of mushy applesauce. But I wasn’t always like this, I’m sure of it.
I remember myself as an incredibly sarcastic, too smart for my own good little girl, growing up in a family where everyone seemed grown up but me. And my family never missed an opportunity to employ the sacred art of sarcasm with pride when perhaps maybe a softer gentler word would have sufficed. I won’t point fingers except to say that I learned from the best, and took pride in being an obnoxious adolescent. In fact, it was my sense of sarcasm that prompted my fifth grade teacher to assign me many, many essays meant for me to reflect on my loud, inappropriate, utterances during class. It didn’t quite work, as he seemed to enjoy my essays so much that he would hand them back with his own sarcastic commentary written in the margins. Instead of squelching my firey temperament, he lit the fuse for an explosion of what I considered one more way to express my disdain for, well, everything. I emulated the kind of silly chatter that I heard around me and felt obligated to match in kind. Despite getting in trouble at home and at school I thought I was one hot shit of a ten year old.
Then puberty hit, and instead of maturing into a more refined demeanor, I became incredibly self conscious. Why am I taller than everyone else, why do I need to wear a bra that’s way more than a half tee-shirt? Why is God punishing me for being a girl, and why the hell did my mother tell her tom boy daughter that she can no longer run around outside with the boys? It was like a whole life of fun antagonizing others was over and I was expected to grow up in a snap.
I didn’t do very well during this awkward stage, and even though I still had my sense of humor, a dark cloud fell over my sense of exuberance and snarky rebuttals; I now became way too self-aware, as many kids do at this age. But I figured I’d snap out of it at some point. Over time, after having loved, lost, loved some more, I thought I was maturing and becoming refined. Apparently I was wrong, and I’ve just been slowly turning into Georgette from the Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Just what is “Too Nice” anyway? Am I a fool? An imbecile? Mentally challenged? No, no, and only sometimes. After a bit of recent reflection, I’ve decided that there is no such thing as “Too Nice.”
Despite my family members’ sassy attitudes, we were all brought up on the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. Now, some of us, like me, had to learn that lesson the hard way, and get incredibly hurt before realizing that actions have consequences, and it’s not what you say necessarily, but how you say it. I’ve tried to live up to that very noble ideal, sometimes successfully, and other times not so much. But I do try, and I don’t regret a moment of being compassionate, kind, gentle or understanding instead of worrying about being taken advantage of. I don’t live like a martyr or a victim because I’m too selfish and have little desire for pity. But when people tell me I’m too nice, I think they mean to hurt me, to prove themselves superior and of stronger character.
To them I can only say: go to hell. Really. Go pound sand and think great thoughts about yourself if that’s what makes you happy. Just don’t rain on my parade of niceness. I’m not always as good at it as I could be, but I like being nice. I like being a good friend that listens. If a person finds glee in taking advantage of me, shame on them, not me. I have no admiration for toxic people, and I deal with them as efficiently as possible. They are the horribly weak ones, just as all manipulative bullies are. Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. You know the song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kt0g4dWxEBo
So you think I’m an easy mark? Go for it. I love the people I love fiercely and with all my heart. I go out of my way not to hurt people’s feelings whether I know them or not, and to be tactful, patient and engaged. I do this because I am not a patient person by nature. That obnoxious adolescent is still in there ready to rear her ridiculous, vain head. Discipline, hard work, and amazing role models have taught me to have a longer wick, adopt a wider threshold. I’ve worked hard to be a good person and if I’m too good, well, thank you. I always was an over-achiever. And if I’ve become Georgette, so be it. As she would say …I’m good with my hands, I’m a pretty fair country cook, and I like to think I’m a nice person … very nice … damn nice.”