No More Ms. Nice Gal!

It is the fourth week of my weekly self portrait challenge. Over 80 brave women (and men!) have decided to take part in the experience and have joined the 52 Weeks of BAM! group on flickr, and it’s been truly inspiring to see everyone put themselves out there in a very literal way!

This 52 weeks project comes along at a time when I’m reevaluating a lot of internal things I’ve got going on. At the beginning of the year I cleaned house and reevaluated between what I needed and what I was wasting time/energy/storage space on…now I find myself cleaning my psyche in much the same way. It’s just as difficult going inward as it was looking outward.

Realizing I have boundary issues (as in, I don’t have any!) has led like a domino effect to another discovery. In asking myself, “why don’t you have boundaries?” “why do you find it hard to say what you want?” “why is it hard for you to say ‘no’ or ‘I don’t want to’ or ‘that’s not OK with me…'” I opened up a whole other can of worms.

The long and short of it is, I don’t do any of those things because I’m uncomfortable feeling anything but “nice”. Isn’t that what girls are all about? Sugar and spice and everything nice? “Be nice!” “play nice!” “say that nicely!” “That wasn’t very nice!!!!” I’m, like, on nice overload.

I’m so nice, I don’t want anyone else to be uncomfortable…even if making them comfortable makes me uncomfortable. Because nice girls put other people first.

I’m so nice, often my reaction to someone treating me badly is to become even MORE nice, since nice girls don’t create or engage in conflict.

I’m so nice, i often apologize when nothing is my fault, just so I can avoid feeling anything but nice.

I’m so nice, I obsess about whether people think I’m nice enough. And then will be overly nice if I think there’s a chance they don’t.

Perhaps you are beginning to understand that when I say, “I may be the nicest person you’ll ever meet!” I don’t think of it as a compliment. It makes me, in fact, a doormat. It makes me anxious and uncomfortable and unhappy in a lot of ways…but since none of those emotions are ‘nice’ I just ignore them and become even nicer.

Other indicators of ‘overniceness’…taken from the website “Anxious to Please”…

You are always longing for something (or someone).

You feel worried or fretful so often it seems normal.

You often don’t know what you want.

You’re always thinking about what you wish you had said.

You constantly second guess yourself.

You apologize frequently, or for things you are not responsible for.

You take what you’re given instead of asking for what you want.

You get preoccupied with what other people think of you.

You are frequently surprised that other people don’t reciprocate your good will.

You do favors for people with the secret hope they will reciprocate.

You are more prone to feel sorry for yourself than to take action and fix a problem.

You tend to give more than you get (you might be resentful about this).

It seems like other people get the attention or the acknowledgment.

It seems like other people get the dates (maybe your friends tell you you’re a great catch).

Your emotional state mirrors your partner’s (if your partner isn’t happy, you aren’t happy).

If, like me, you answered yes to a large number of those questions, then I invite you to join my book club and read Anxious to Please: 7 Revolutionary Practices for the Chronically Nice. So far, it’s pretty dead on accurate for my situation of overniceness. I haven’t gotten to the solution yet, but there are quite a few chapters towards the end that promise just that. I’m ready to make the change.

Other’s may not be ready for me too, though. Being nice has it’s advantages. I was the perfect schoolchild because I followed the rules to the T and never spoke out. I was the perfect employee because I sacrificed my own good for whatever the good of the job required. I was the perfect girlfriend because I always agreed with my boyfriend, even if I really didn’t agree at all. I was the perfect friend because I never made any drama or had any knock down drag out disagreements. But really, it’s not perfect at all. It’s dishonest to myself and the people around me. And it takes a heavy toll to constantly provide what other people need without being able to ask for or get the things that I need in return.

I think I’m done with being too nice. I have a full range of expressions and feelings that need to join my emotional repetoire…not just the ‘nice’ ones.

So this is me. Not being nice. This makes me uncomfortable, but also? Just a little bit happy.