Friday, October 28, 2011

Believing the Lie: "Nice" Edition

This is re-posted from my livejournal, and I got a lot of great replies to it. A lot of people said that they felt that "nice" and "real" were different things. I don't necessarily think they are mutually exclusive, and that's kind of where my "Bitch" post from earlier this month comes from. I am all for telling people how it is and being "real" as long as you're not cruel and nasty about it.

Anyway, here's the re-post: :)

Believing the Lie: "Nice" edition.
I think there are several "lies" that people willingly happily believe in life. I use the word lie, and maybe I shouldn't because lies are bad hurtful things, and what I'm talking about here aren't. They are things that most people believe and follow on faith and I think these are terribly important and help us get through life. We need them. We preach them, and we despritely want them to be true. They are part of our humanity. I want to write about a bunch of them over time, but let's be honest here, I'll probably just write this post/rant/entry/essay and then forget about the rest of them. I'm trying to be more honest in my expectations of myself. In this post, I probably come across as preachy, bossy, and a bit self-righteous. I probably am these things, but I am just as guilty of everything I say here as anyone else.

So without further ado, my take on the lie of "Nice":

I was scanning Facebook last night after the baby was in bed and my parents had left, and I wasn't quite ready to go to my own bed (Still debating if I was going to match socks, write birthday thank you's, or just go sleep), and came across this status written by a good friend of mine: (Name redacted):So tired of being a nice person and yet still being constantly left out of everything *sigh* I wanted to comment, but didn't know what to say that wouldn't be trite, just placating, and someone else had already asked what happened, so I didn't say anything but it got me thinking.

We are all taught that we must be nice. 'Play nicely with the kitten, Evangeline', 'That wasn't a nice thing to say SarahBeth', 'You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar', etc. That if we are nice everyone will like us and want to be around us all the time, we will have good things in life, we will be given opportunities, we will be successful, etc.

I call Bullshit.

First of all: everyone thinks that they are a nice person. Seriously, when was the last time you thought to yourself: 'Geez, I'm a real wanker, it's amazing that anyone puts up with me' and TRULY MEANT IT? Never right? (Unless you are my husband who sometimes thinks he really is a bad person, but not all the time...he knows that I would never had married him if he was) Now, this could be because if you're reading this, I know you and everyone I know is just swell, but I am willing to bet that almost no one honestly thinks that they are just a suck-ass person. Even truly evil people don't go around saying "I just want to make life miserable for people because I can" They have an agenda to justify what they do (or have a voice somewhere telling them) It's really really easy for people to convince themselves that the mean rotten things we all do on occasion, are justified because "I really am a nice person". I am really mean sometimes in my head and in a snark community to a girl I "know" online who I'll just call NL. I don't like her. I don't like her because she is rude to people and self righteous and kind of a c-word. Is it ok for me to be mean about her (never to her "face", I just ignore her) because I'm a nice person in other regards? No, it's not. I do it anyway, but it's not ok, if it were ok, I wouldn't feel so guilty about it. I try to be a nice person, but when it comes to this woman, I just find myself flailing. Does this negate the nice things I do? Nope, but it means that I'm not quite a perfectly nice, sweet person (I actually think there was a time when I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt and was kind, even in my head, to everyone, but that was a long time ago, and life just pushes you sometimes). I knew a guy once, who was the kind of person that would say really mean nasty things to people, or make jokes that were on the cusp of being really rude, and everyone just played it off as "He's just trying to make a joke, and is socially awkward enough that he doesn't realize it's not funny" or "He couldn't have possibly meant it that way" He ended up being a cheat, and said some not very nice things about his (Now ex)wife. Then he moved and some not so nice things happened to him (I don't know details, as I had unfriended him ages before because I didn't want that stuff on my "wall" anymore) and Pat called me over to his computer one day laughing. He pointed to a status by this guy lamenting how "Nice guys like me always get kicked when we're down" or something similar. Um? Him: Not nice, but he honestly thought he was a nice guy, a victim of circumstance.

Second of all: being nice will not get you a job. Seriously, where on your resume or cover letter does it say "Nice person". Go, look, I'll wait...... It doesn't does it? So being nice is not going to land you that interview. Now, being a nice person won't hinder you, unless you come across as a push-over (or a fake), but when it comes down to it, being qualified beyond the other people, and being a good fit with the team/organization if going to get you the job. Your nice-ness quotient probably won't even show in an interview. If it comes down to 2 candidates, both of whom are equally qualified, and would fit equally well, then maybe whomever seems nicer might get the job, or maybe they won't. I used to help my beloved former boss "The chief" with his interviews and resume screening, and the only difference between someone who came across as particularly nice and someone who didn't...was how badly we felt if we didn't offer them the job. To be honest, everyone seems nice at an interview because (hopefully) they're showing their best side. Being nice will not even really help you keep a job. In fact, by trying to be nice, even when someone started to turn on me, eventually caused me to lose a job I loved (now, there was way more to it than that, but there always is). Being nice could get you taken advantage of and still not get to keep your job. A lot of places have a last hired, first "fired"/laid off rule. So nice-ness won't help you there. If you can't do the job/aren't learning fast enough, being nice may get you an extra chance, but it won't save your job in the long run. (Although, it does sometimes help you get better deals from Vendors if they like you). Being nice won't get you into a lab to do your PhD, if you screwed up constantly.

Third: nice is a matter of perspective. Like anything really. I could be nice to a person, and they may be having a really wretched day and think that your nice comment was sarcastic and go off on you. They may think that you are rubbing it in their faces that you are happy and they aren't. You can't control how someone perceives your nice behavior and as I often say "Your perception is your reality" If you are having a dreadful day, and awful things keep happening to you and then you see someone skipping down the road singing to themselves, it can infuriate you. You didn't chose to feel that way, but sometimes it just happens. Another saying of mine is "You can't control how you feel, you can only control your reaction to that feeling" Feelings are reactionary, behavior can be controlled. What I'm saying is that even nice people truly sweet lovely people sometimes go off the deep-end with deeply personal (to them matters) what may have been a sweet gesture in your mind, could be devastating to the person you did said gesture for. Sometimes when you are upset and try to share how you're feeling in a "nice way" to spare someone's feelings and start to repair something broken, they can see it as an attack against them. You never know. So again, nice is a lie.

Fourth, and last as I fear I'm rambling, and not sure this should be a section: Now, some people are nice because they are afraid of karma (I really like the idea of karma, I don't know how much I truly believe in it). I think a lot of people who have had bad things done to us by other people want to think that karma is real. I think people like to think that bad things they've endured because of things/circumstance/health get rewarded for it later too, but that's another rant for another day. We want to know that people are punished for doing rotten things and we are vindicated. However, the people who did bad things, had reasons for them, that they thought were ok, and maybe they are hoping karma happens to you! The problem is that we all want to be good people, and somehow we all can't be. I struggle with this. Why do we need a villain to our hero? Should I watch the movie Unbreakable again? Does SLJ have all the answers? I certainly don't.


As for my friend, She didn't tell what happened in her status, so I don't know what she was left out of. I will tell you though, she IS a nice person, but I'm willing to bet that her being nice had nothing to do with whatever it was. I don't know why she was left out, maybe it was because whomever thought she would be busy packing for her upcoming move, maybe they couldn't provide her transportation, maybe there weren't enough tickets/space/money to have her come along, maybe it was all couples and they didn't want her to feel like a fifth wheel being in a distance relationship, maybe they were planning a bank heist and figured she was too pretty for jail should they get caught. Hell, maybe they just didn't want to see her this time, it could have been anything. This does not negate the fact that my friend is nice, in fact, if she wasn't nice she might not even know the people who left her out. Maybe if she wasn't nice (although admittedly a bit paranoid *wink*) it wouldn't bother her. Her nice-ness has given her a lot of friends, and given her happy memories, and while it can be hard to focus on that when "Nice guys finish last" so often, the times she has "finished last" has not made her a less hopeful, nice person (although, like all of us are wont to do, she does get bitter and disappointed at times).

When it comes down to the brass tacks of it, being nice makes YOU feel good, and I find, makes you an all over happier person, which makes it easier to be nice, and so on, not to mention, when you are nice to someone, they (not always, don't I know it) tend to feel a little nicer as well. However, it can really really be hard to continue to want to be nice/do nice things for others when your efforts are not reciprocated or even seem to go unnoticed, so remember to write those thank you notes (I'm still a tad behind on mine), appreciate those in our lives who are really good to us and remember to pay it forward. "Nice" is something that helps us get through the day, makes us happier in our lives, and helps us initially meet like minded people. Nice will make people think about you when they are away from you, make people want to do you kindnesses when they can. Nice will light up someone's day but unfortunately, in the vast unfairness of life, it will not solve all our problems. Hopefully though, it will help us bare them better. I'm gonna end with a quote from Jerry Springer, just for irony's sake "Be Good To Yourself…and Each Other!"

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