It's happened to me before.
I'm talking to someone, and I do something (something some people consider as oddly kind). Then, the words soon to follow:
"Oh, you're so nice."
When I hear those words, I cringe.
Actually, it's gotten to the point that one of my biggest phobias is being written off as "that nice girl."
Frankly, those three words are loaded with a lot of judgement and carry with them way more assumptions than people realize. Thank you, but I don't fit neatly into a one-size-fits all goody-two shoes profile.
Yes, I actually have individuality, and it might surprise you if you'd just stop seeing through all the "nice girl" assumptions you (often unknowingly) associate with us.
To all my girls who've been categorized as oh so nice, this one's for you.
To all my categorizers, please, see us as individuals and stop plastering the following judgements:
1. You have no backbone.
The oh-you're-so-nice can register in people's minds as oh-she's-never-gonna-stand-up to anybody.
News flash, kindness is not synonymous with doormat.
Yes, I may say something kind to someone or be "nice" to somebody you think is not-so-nice, but watch out for when my passions are ignited.
When I have an opinion, when I care about something, who are you to assume that I'm going to not stand up?
2. You care about harmony more than anything.
OK, flat out "no" to this one.
Just because I'm "nicely" concerned that other people are included and try to meet the needs of others (even emotional ones) does not mean that "harmony" is all I want.
Actually, sometimes it's the furthest thing that I desire.
I care more about having healthy relationships and communication than I do about having a "peaceful" situation where "everybody gets along." A lot of the times, living with relationships with that level of communication (which often means deep honesty and chance for offense) means open conflict.
Guess what? I (time after time after time) choose the conflict in order to have real relationships. Don't think I'm not capable of this.
3. You have small, "nice" ambitions and dreams.
OK, just because I spoke kindly to a stranger doesn't mean that I'm abnormally hyper-altruistic and only desire to make the world a happier place filled with more sunshine and rainbows.
Sometimes, I'd actually prefer the rain and skip the rainbow because storms mean challenges and I love to overcome them.
Who are you to automatically assume that I'd like to keep the boat in the harbor and never try anything new? Why do you assume that I want everything to fit together so perfectly?
My dreams (if you were to actually ask) might surprise you.
They could involve world change. They could involve doing things that are extremely risky and incredibly hard. Yes, they could even involve doing things that "normal" not-nice people are too afraid to start.
You miss it all when you let a label slap over your eyes and blind you to the person actually in front of you.
4. You just want a "nice" life (and world).
My concept of a happy and meaningful world is not one where everyone joins hands and sings kumbaya around a campfire.
My concept of a happy and meaningful life is nowhere near having a white picket fence and while having two children and being in the know about organic baby food.
No (oh no).
I want a world where people are unafraid of their future and live with courage despite inevitable turbulent times. I want a world where people people learn what it means to be catalyzed with hope in a world that can seem so desperate.
I want a life that shows what overcoming and handwork can result in if only you are faithful enough to live and make the most of everything. I want a life that is fierce in wholehearted pursuit of all that makes life worth living.
"Nice" is one of the last words I would use to describe all this.
5. You can't be upset.
Just because I try to have communication be as healthy as possible (and sometimes that means speaking "nice" so that conversation can be maintained) does not mean I can never be agitated.
Actually, I kind of wish I couldn't ever be irritated because that would be incredibly convenient. However, that is not the case.
I get passionate. I can get frustrated. Yes, I can get angry and upset.
I'm human, just like you.
6. You have little to contribute.
This one may get me the most frustrated of all.
Because I was "nice" and enthusiastic when hearing about someone's summer does not mean that all I have to say and do is give positive feedback about other people's experiences.
Actually, I've had experiences of my own, and I'm all for going on new adventures and solving new problems together.
I have skills, desires, strengths and weaknesses just like you do. These contribute to a team just like yours do. We all need each other, and that includes everyone.
To sum it all up, please, watch your vocabulary. When you label someone as "that nice girl" you might be surprise at how much else you're assuming about them, too.
Just because they say or do something "nice" or are "enthusiastic," "positive," or "kind" does not mean that they are made of marshmallow fluff and float through life with their head in the clouds.
All I'm asking is for you to be open. To be willing to actually get to know someone.
You might be surprised by what you find.