I was raised to be “nice.” I didn’t receive any other directions than that so I deduced what being nice meant by learning what it didn’t: nice girls don’t have anything mean to say, nice girls smile even when someone is not nice to them, nice girls are polite to all men no matter how old or creepy or gross they are and no matter what they say, nice girls say only words that people want to hear, and nice girls never ever express how they’re feeling if it means someone — especially a man — is made uncomfortable or challenged in any way.
Suffice it to say, I’ve spent the past few years trying to un-fuck myself of this self-abusing behavior.
Because I don’t owe any measure of politeness to someone who is not treating me with respect. I don’t owe an explanation or an answer to anyone if I’m in a position of vulnerability or my boundaries are violated or I’m uncomfortable in a situation.
So to the total stranger who came up directly behind me while I was picking out vegetables in the grocery store and then loudly stated “Hello Beautiful! Why don’t you smile?” — a man who was as old as my dad and scared the shit out of me with his slobbering grin: I don’t owe you a smile or a giggle or anything but a look of get-the-hell-away-from-me because you made me uncomfortable and freaked me out when all I was trying to do was find a ripe avocado (no small task).
And as a side note: You would not have approached a man like that because you very well might have been shot (I do live in Arizona).
This and the hundreds of other similar situations that so many other women share when we are forced into uncomfortable situations and then reproached when we don’t respond politely in return. When we aren’t nice.
I’ve learned that the key to my own peace of mind is to throw “being nice” out the window and replace it with “being kind”, starting with showing myself kindness first, which means not spending another moment making someone else comfortable if it means at the expense of my own discomfort.
This isn’t about being angry or confrontational or acting out — all accusations women have heard many times over when simply speaking up and defending themselves.
It’s about respect. Respect for ourselves. Respect for our bodies. Respect for our space that we hold on this planet.
Nothing wrong with standing up for ourselves, ladies, even if that means we might be portrayed as not-so-nice girls. Because always remember: the only fan club we need to be concerned with is the one in the mirror.
And how nice is that…