If I had to use the psychology degree I earned from watching Dr. Phil and Iyanla Fix my Life, I could probably trace it back to when I was in high school. People looked at me and assumed I was a bitch because of how I looked. Or took in my attire and mistook my general mistrust of all nouns (people, places, things) as me being “stuck up”. When you’re a kid dying to fit in and longing to belong anywhere, that hurts. And so I worked overtime at proving them wrong. I was overly polite. I tried to, if not befriend, certainly be kind to people (sometimes I failed). I took immense joy in the oft repeated declaration, “You know, when I first met/saw (judged) you I thought you were such a bitch, but you are so cool!” ignoring how shocked people were that a woman could be pretty and smart and, you know, act in a manner consistent with human decency, at the same. Instead I focused on the satisfaction of knowing I had changed their idea of me. I had succeeded. They liked me. They thought I was nice. I had won them over, no matter the effort or the back breaking bending I had to do to get there.
There was a time in my life when I was wholly preoccupied with people thinking I was “nice.” Though I proudly espoused the old adage that “nice girls rarely make history”, I was fairly consumed with co-workers, friends, lovers, strangers not finding me to be an asshole while I made history. Or you know, lived.
But fuck all that now.
The truth is, I am nice. Mostly. Some days I snap at people. Oftentimes my annoyance at something that has been said or done that I perceive to be stupid or petty or a waste of my precious time cannot be hidden. Though I can generally strike up a conversation with anybody about anything regardless of our familiarity with each other, sometimes I need quiet and don’t feel obligated to contribute to conversation just so there won’t be silence. The difference is now, that is okay.
I no longer find myself particularly preoccupied with appearing nice. (Or “good”, but that’s another story for another day.) I treat people well. I honor my strength and weaknesses. I reinforce my boundaries without being an asshole. I carve out a space to exist with people in situations that respect the dichotomy of my existence; I am warm and approachable and will cuss you out if you provoke me. And if that is not ok with you?