All Articles Tagged "being nice"
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.
My cousin, Malika*. My ex-bestie, Lorraina*. My sister’s ex-bestie Andrea*. What do all these young women have in common besides their race and the fact that their names end with an “A”? None of them could find it in their hearts to give another sista a straight-shooting compliment. Ever. If they did give out a compliment, it was either prefaced with a smug proclamation like, “I never compliment girls unless they deserve it,” or immediately followed with insults so backhanded that they might as well have kept the compliment to themselves in the first place. And sometimes if someone else is fawning over another young woman’s hair, shoes, pretty face, etc., they would offer the classic, teeth-suck and eye-roll combo followed by, “Yeah, whatever. She ain’t all that.”
None of the above women are unattractive by society’s standards. They are all sufficiently intelligent. So let me state the obvious: They are poster women for one of the most rampantly running diseases that has taken over the U.S. by leaps and bounds: Insecurity.
Now, let me preface this with my own admission. I been that girl (as Melanie Fiona would say), which is why I am qualified to poke, pry at and probe this topic. I know what insecurity looks like from an ugly, raw, up-close-and-personal view. I know what it is to see in someone else all the things I want to be but to secretly loathe them for it. I know what it is to rip apart pieces of other women’s personas and stitch them together to make a costume of what I considered beauty for myself, never realizing I was covering up the beauty in me to take on the beauty of someone else. It never quite fit. It was loose in some places and busting at the seams in others. So, in a subconscious attempt to deflect from my own awkward feelings, I would tear down others. I couldn’t give a compliment to save my own pitiful life. I wanted to find something wrong with everyone else because there was something so severely wrong inside me.
Sick, right? Welp, that’s the way it goes when you have no concept of how to love and accept yourself.
The catalyst that catapulted from that deteriorating state isn’t as complex as you might think. Although, by no means am I knocking therapy, I didn’t need to seek therapy. I didn’t have a “come-to-Jesus”/”Eureka!” moment. The catalyst was simply a series of conversations with myself on paper. I wrote out how I truly felt about anything and everything. That consistent exercise forced me to look at my insides and see all of the things I had been trying to get away from for years with no pretty filters. The funny thing is that no matter how much makeup you pile on, no matter how many fly outfits you don, no matter how many hot pictures you take – if you don’t love yourself, it will eventually show.
It started to show for me. I was snapping at people, looking for reasons to dislike even the most amazing young women. My friends and I were considered the “Mean Girls.” The crazy thing is that once I realized that people HATED me and who I had become, it hurt me so badly. But instead of deflecting and projecting, as I was SO used to doing, I started getting real with myself. That changed the game for me and ultimately thrust my ex-bestie and me apart and into two very different paths in life. I wanted to engage my higher nature. I wasn’t content to keep such a bitter outlook on life because of the bitterness I felt inside. So, I started getting to know the people I had once loathed. And just as my higher nature had first suspected, but my lower nature was quick to shun: They were beautiful souls. Some of the women who have made the biggest impact on my life were the ones I couldn’t stand and refused to say anything decent to in the beginning. Funny how life works, huh?
So, I can recognize insecurity in females when I see it, most especially in black women. We don’t have to feed into the stereotypical “Angry-Black-Woman” caricature, but too often we absolutely do. Too often, we allow ourselves to slip into the abyss of self-dissatisfaction, sometimes never to return. We will sit and talk smack about another young woman who is just going on about her business, enjoying a FREE life – a concept we can’t fathom because we’re too enslaved to our own insecurities. We’re shackled by our self-identified “flaws” when, in all honesty they could be sparkling gems of character if we would just learn how to be free in who we are. Another woman’s beauty, intelligence, raw style, sense of humor, gift of gab or overflowing purse of talent is not a THREAT to our own. We all have a lane in which no one else can cruise in as effectively and as coolly as we can. Affirming each other is not an admission of personal defeat or inferiority.
Now, if I am digging another sista’s personality, shoe game, hair or intelligence, I let her know and more often than not, we dig into each other and become great acquaintances, sometimes even close friends. Giving props where they are due never takes away shine from you, it only ever adds to your glow. Hopefully Malika, Lorraina and Andrea will learn how to get their shine on much sooner than later.
La Truly is a late-blooming Aries whose writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. Armed with the ability to purposefully poke fun at herself and a passion for young women’s empowerment, La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change. Her blog: www.hersoulinc.com and her Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.