If there’s ever been a consistent complaint about me my entire life it’d be: ”You’re too nice.” I admit it, I have a problem. As I’ve mentioned before, growing up with a stuttering problem as a child gave me the opportunity to sit back and observe people, and as a child I saw how people would just be so rude and mean for no reason. So, as a munchkin, when I finally got my stuttering under wraps I began to think that maybe mean people were mean because they never had someone be nice to them. So, I took that thought process into practice. Whenever I saw a person being mean or rude, I would be the one who was nice and polite, and usually they would reciprocate.
My experiences yielded such great results that I even tried to be extremely nice to the devil, thinking: ”Maybe if someone’s nice to him, he wouldn’t be so evil.” That’s when my family got concerned and started trying to get me to not be so nice all the time. ”Kendra, being nice is great, but you can have your moments. It’s good to express all emotions.”
But the problem came in because when people expect a certain behavior from you and you deviate at all, they turn it into a big deal. Humans are creatures of habit and aren’t comfortable with new things (especially when you have expectations from something or someone and they flip the script). Even some of my family, if I was having a bad day or being a little snappy, it seemed that some of them would blow it completely out of proportion. Their bad days were acceptable, mine weren’t. Or when I was in college and on Facebook I once wrote a status that expressed how annoyed I was and three people sent me personal messages telling me how I should take my status down because people were depending on me to be happy. ”What?! If you don’t get out of my inbox right now!”
So, I naturally fell back into my be-nice-to-everyone-and-be-there-for-anyone-you-can mode. Now, I don’t mind helping a person at all, and I’m not nice to receive gratitude or an applause; it’s just a trait that’s ingrained in me. But, when you are nice, you can’t help but realize the discrepancies. I don’t mind being there for others; but it used to frustrate me that when I needed a favor, or needed an ear, my calls were ignored by the same people who didn’t mind asking for money, clothes to wear, or crying how no one was paying attention to them.
Infuriated, I decided that: okay, people want things from nice Kendra, but they don’t mind being a-holes, I see the game, let’s do this. So, for a short while, reliving that indignation, I put on my stink’em face and proceeded about my day. Someone would call me and I would immediately ignore their calls (even if I knew I was in their eye sight). ”Kendra can I borrow this?” ”No,” like a boss. For the people who didn’t like it, they knew where to go.
As freeing as that rude experience was, it wasn’t me. I’m not going to lie, I look back on that moment of verbally telling people to “get out of my face,” very fondly. But, I realized that I don’t need to go from one extreme to the other. It wasn’t good that I was being there for everyone else but myself. Sacrificing is a nice thing to do, but if you don’t want to do it, then don’t. Don’t let yourself be burdened down by taking on the qualms on others and then feel hurt when people aren’t there for you in the exact same way you were there for them. I learned that there was a happy medium to tap into.
Now, my friends and family know how much I love them and how I’ll always be there for them. But, they also know that if I don’t want to be bothered, I’m not going to be. If I want to be happy, I’ll express that, but if I’m in a mood, then you have to accept it, the same way I accept them through all the phases of their emotions. But ultimately, I’ve accepted myself for finally being free of living up to other’s expectations of my emotions, and I hope the same for all of you.
Kendra Koger has found her happy medium. You can find her twitter account at @kkoger.