When someone thinks of the state of Minnesota, they don’t automatically think of our infinite lakes, our award-winning state fair, our sports teams, or our many cultural hotspots. Instead, people automatically think of Minnesota’s trademark “niceness” when they meet someone from Minnesota, visit Minnesota, or even when the word “Minnesota” just rolls off of their tongue.
Minnesotans are proud to be known for being some of the most mild-mannered, courteous, and giving people of the entire United States. We all take pride in our ability to automatically put others needs before our own; that’s just the Minnesota way. We love making others happier through our acts of kindness. While all of us Minnesotans really do enjoy our obligations for keeping the “Minnesota nice” stereotype intact, sometimes the job of keeping up Minnesota’s reputation for housing some of the nicest people in the country can be extremely taxing.
Let’s start with a classic scenario that every Minnesotan has experienced. You are in the midst of a get together with friends, and you are all just about to finish devouring this large, mouthwatering pizza that you all ordered from your favorite pizza joint. However, there is just one problem; only a single slice remains in the box. If you are from any other state, you will have no problems taking the last slice. You may even be thankful that your Minnesotan friend abstained from that slice of pizza so you could eat instead. On the other hand, if you are a true Minnesotan, this situation causes so much inner-conflict. If you eat the last slice, you are going to appear as selfish or pig-like to your other friends. Your other friends may get upset if you eat the last slice if they were especially hungry. You don’t want your friends to starve, right? You end up spending the rest of the night with a rumbling tummy because you didn’t want to cause any trouble by taking the last slice away from your hungry friends. You may end up hungry in this situation, but you know that your friends are all happy, and that’s more fulfilling than any slice of bread with cheese and tomato sauce on it.
Do you know what happens when a Minnesotan gets stuck at a four-way traffic stop? They end up extremely late for whatever event they were trying to attend on time. You may be wondering how this could ever occur? I mean, you would think that everyone would just try to get through the intersection and move on with their day in a timely manner right? Every person from Minnesota tries their hardest to be nice to everyone that is also waiting at that stop with them. Instead of just gunning it and going about our business, the stereotypical Minnesotan will sit at the traffic stop, and wait for the sweet old lady to cross the intersection first, because you assume she is trying to go home to catch up on her soap operas that are about to air on her television. The stereotypical Minnesotan will let the mom battling her car full of screaming, squirming children through the intersection before themselves because they feel for the mom and want her to get home as soon as possible. Soon enough, the stereotypical Minnesotan will be late for whatever appointment they were trying to get to just because they were too polite and wanted everyone else to not have to wait. They don’t mind that they are late though, as they know that they were just being too nice for their own good to their fellow road travelers.
Scenarios like these are tough for any Minnesotan. It is tough when you have to put the feelings of others in front of your own every single second of the day. It is annoying when your genuine niceness gets interpreted as passive aggressiveness by everyone around you. Honestly, even when there is just a little bit more force behind the phrase “I’m fine,” everyone automatically assumes that your passive aggressive “Minnesota-ness” is showing. You end up creating a case of cognitive dissonance for yourself to deal with every day because you honestly want to put the needs of the people around you before your own, but you also don’t want others to assume that you are just doing so because you have to either. Everyone just assumes that because you were born and raised in Minnesota, you are going to always give in to others. People start to walk all over you like a doormat because they honestly think that you don’t care and want to be a doormat for them (after all, you are a kind Minnesotan who would do nothing less than giving everyone a place to wipe their dirty feet).
Putting all of these qualms aside, Minnesotans really don’t have much to complain about. Although it can be annoying to always be expected to hold up the integrity of the “Minnesota nice” stereotype, it is nice to see the genuine happiness and joy the people around us feel after they experience some true, Minnesota niceness. Seeing the looks of pure glee, happiness, joy, and relief dance upon the faces of people around us is what makes “Minnesota Nice” really so nice after all. That, my friends, is what keeps the “nice Minnesotan” from crumbling from all of the negative attitudes in the world.