Niceness is a thoroughly important thing to me, to be, and also to be around. ‘Nice’ is a term I’ve been called most, since primary school and continues. But there’s a clear label behind niceness, I’ve noticed it but others I talk to don’t see it.
As a foreword, this is a collection of thoughts, most I’ve had for years, others more recent and all about ‘kindness’ and ‘niceness’. Would I call myself ‘nice’, no, I try to be and that’s all I feel able to say.
But this is based on the large amount of people who call me ‘nice’. Slight hyperbole, but ‘nice’ is what people have called me most second only to my name (maybe not so much hyperbole now I think about it.
In advance, although I mention it a lot, I am not saying being ‘nice’ is bad, I do not think that, but it hurts people badly, and can hurt people badly, make them feel isolated, alone, used, empty. All of this and more, a small collection of negative feelings that can come from being ‘nice’.
‘Niceness’ in society
There is a large difference between someone saying you’re nice, and knowing what it means. This may sound confusing, so I shall try to elaborate. There is a common conception around niceness, it’s something nice to be around, nice to receive. But not something to be too close to. It’s one of those things that ‘I like the idea of, but it’s terrible in reality’ (or ‘I like the idea but not really’).
It is something no one I have talked to can truly understand, ‘niceness’ has a cost, a cost no one sees. People see the face, but not the whole picture, can see the light face of it but not the dark side of it. It is quite funny (but not really, very depressingly, say this to try and make light of it) that how it seems quite contradictory, niceness is anything but to the person showing it. Nice people often show it as a front, to make themselves and others smile when they’re broken inside.
Hostility to ‘niceness’ – in the self and others
Some have tried to convince me that I am broken, faulty, stupid and completely alone for being nice. Hearing that was hurtful, threw me into a whirlwind of… I can’t really describe it. To try and imagine it, to explain it, it’s like holding ‘everything’ in your hand, everything that makes you, you. Everything that you hold dear, the world you experience, the world you try to make, the joys of life, the pain, the endurance and persistence. Hearing these harsh things threw my ‘everything’ leaving me with nothing left.
The episode in the previous paragraph, although by far being the worst time I’ve experienced the paradox of niceness. Is definitely not the only time, another important event for me was going through a deep depression a few years back. Everyone noticed, but no one said anything. But I tried to kill the kindness out of me. Nearly worked, was so sad all the time, but I turned it all into anger, at anything, at everything. So much so that if someone bumped into me on the street I felt so angry I would have ‘happily’ shouted at them, shoved them to the side and punched them straight across the face. I didn’t do this, and would not have liked to, I was trying to escape niceness. But it’s not something I want to do, yet I also do.
Am I sick of being nice? Yes
Would I change it? I would like to, but also wouldn’t like to
Is being ‘nice’, nice? Yes, but also torture.
Niceness is a strong characteristic, at least in some very small ways
Back to the person who heavily critiqued my ‘niceness’, being nice isn’t easy, it isn’t seeing things optimistically or through ‘rose tinted’ glasses.
Being nice is seeing a problem, can be almost anything, and wanting to change that, even if it is merely smiling and being nice.
Anecdotes of being nice
Related to the above point, one anecdotal story I have, but is relevant. I was walking home, past a bus stop near my house, I then went to ask the driver what was the cost of a ticket (different priced route, doesn’t really matter). I asked and was given the answer, the bus driver thanked me for talking to him, and I said to this no problem, he clearly felt value in this small, and meaningless (yet not meaningless to him) interaction, he even thanked me and said he’d let me onto the bus for free to the closest point near my house along his route (happened only to be a minute’s walk, so I declined as I didn’t need it).
— This interaction has stuck with me, I didn’t be nice intentionally, but it shows how the simplest acts, even unintentionally can provide a deep and meaningful impact on someone.
Another story, another very simple story, I was simply walking home, saw a man sitting outside his house gate on a step with his hands over his face. I looked and my mind was thinking if I should ask, and I waited, taking the time to make my decision until I was walking directly in front of him and needed to decide. I did ask him if he was okay and would have happily sat with him and talk about anything for a little bit of time (not making out I’m mega-nice or anything, I didn’t have an urgent appointment or anything, just home for dinner). He said it was okay, but I do remember the response, taking his head out of his hands, standing up, and thanking me so much but saying he was okay.
The last story I will provide on this already-long blog, is really of two events. The first was a person who bullied me in school, merely posting on FB something along the lines of ‘Someone please talk to me, I am so alone’. Not having talked to her since school, and her bullying me (not too intensely or anything). I messaged, we talked about her situation. Spent several days talking, and later the problem was solved and she thanked me so much.
— What is so interesting about this story, for me, is how we haven’t talked since this incident a couple years ago, but a recent FB post I made, she commented and was joking and teasing. From not talking to years, to one incident, to the nice small interaction not mentioning anything but being on good terms.
The second of the stories is funnily enough to do with the person who criticised my niceness, similar introduction, I really only met her and started talking as she posted on FB that she was sick and tired of everything going on and was thinking of quitting Uni. I responded asking what was wrong. We talked and talked for a while, met up quite regularly and became quite good friends. But I’ll leave that story there.
I know I will not escape niceness, I just care about people, even if I may be alone in doing so, I have come to terms with it, but not at peace with it. There is still a stigma, still loneliness. Still isolation. It will probably never heal. Probably never stop. But, being kind. Why not continue as long as I can with this?
Although I offer my complaints on the subject of my personal experience of ‘niceness’, I do not mean to give the impression it is all bad, of course not, but overall, I would say it is more bad than good. It’s “more trouble than it’s worth” to use a quote from somewhere I’ve heard numerous times. But, I have tried to escape it and clearly failed to do so.
It is one of those things I guess you can distance yourself from, but cannot escape.
One blog I’ve been meaning to write, but is slightly relevant to this, my favourite character from The Walking Dead (yes, I’m a massive Walking Dead fan and yes, there is a point to this) is ‘Negan’ even after a mere 2 minutes of seeing him on screen. He as a character is probably my polar opposite, but that’s why he’s my favourite (not the violence or swearing part). He is what I potentially wish I can be, ruthless, willing to put myself above others etc. But know I cannot, and also know I would not want to. (An introductory spoiler-free clip of him is at the end of the blog).
As this blog is probably far too long I shall end it here, but, if there’s a point I’d like people to at least conceptually understand what I mean, even if you do not agree.
‘Niceness’ isn’t ‘nice’
Niceness has a cost
Again, please don’t think it’s a rant how everyone should be nasty, but just my experience of the paradox of niceness.
I will continue to be as nice as I can be, continue to try and help everyone I can, no matter what, and continue to strive above almost (can’t think of anything else, but there may be something out there) all else to make everyone I meet feel slightly happier, or distracted from the everyday drains of life. To merely make people feel slightly better, even if it is only very slightly better, even if it only lasts a moment, it would be worth it.
The thoughts in this random blog were spurred on by this first embedded video, sounded like a video summary of myself haha! I have just finished watching when starting this blog, it captures the paradox of niceness better than anything I’ve watched or listened to or anything. I have had these thoughts and contemplations for years, but this video was the first to show it was not merely in my own head.
Truly quite inspiring. Also as a side note, I would recommend the Channel who made this video to all my friends, the ‘School of Life’, they look at a large variety of topics and have helped to calm me at many tough points, help by putting things in perspective or even just knowing that there are some people who can relate.
About this Negan video, it isn’t violent (until 11:10) nor scary, and any violence you don’t actually see, only hear. The video captures Negan’s ‘I want what I want and nothing will stop me’. Very much the polar opposite to ‘niceness’.