From the time we’re little girls, we’re taught that this is what we’re made of. We’re taught that being a lady means being kind, never hurting anyone’s feelings, and putting others first.
Growing up, I believed niceness was something to center your life around.
Was I perfect? Hell no. I made plenty of mistakes. I’ve had my share of moments in the mean girl shoes. I’ve hurt people, I’ve been selfish, and I’ve strayed from the nice girl motto.
No one is perfect, and I honestly don’t think we should try to be. There are plenty of wrongs with the whole everything nice mantra, the nursery rhyme, and the rigid gender roles we’re branded with as children. Plenty.
However, for better or worse, I would say I’ve clung to the value of being the “nice girl” overall. I’ve been the rule-follower, the girl afraid to rock the boat. I hate confrontation because I hate having people unhappy. I plaster on a smile even when I’m angry inside. I’m the “yes” girl because, well, it seems like what nice girls would say.
But as I approach my 30th birthday, there’s one thing I’ve come to realize: Although society teaches us to be “nice” girls when we’re young, nice girls are usually seen as weak in adulthood.
You Are Wrong About My Weakness
I’ve also come to realize that you specifically have mistaken my niceness with weakness. You may have heard the sugar and spice bit growing up, but you didn’t buy in. I’m not judging that because, as I said, there are flaws with being the nice girl and with society pressuring girls to become “yes” women. I think it’s admirable you rose above that.
I don’t think it’s admirable, though, that you make it your mission to prey on women like me who are still finding the balance between nice and not.
You’ve told yourself that I won’t fight back and that you can, thus, take advantage. You’re convinced because you’re the outgoing, go-get-it at all costs kind of person, I’ll just back down and smile at whatever you throw my way. You see me as this mousy brunette who won’t challenge the cruelties and unfairness you’re shoving at me.
I’m just here to say: You’re wrong.
Yes, I try to put others first. Yes, I try to accept hardships and adversities with a smile. I try not to rock the boat. I try to be selfless, and I try not to be unkind. I rarely speak up when I feel something is unfair, choosing to bite my tongue, grin, and bear.
But don’t for a second think I’m weak.
Don’t you dare box me in as someone to be stomped on and walked over. Don’t for a second think you can just pin me in the corner and I won’t fight back.
Don’t assume because you see me as the nice girl, you are stronger than me. Just because I smile through your meanness doesn’t mean I’m shriveling up inside.
I am proud of who I am. I might be nice, but I’m not spineless. I’m learning when I need to stand up for what I believe in and for myself. I’m learning that sometimes the “everything nice” line needs to be shredded to pieces.
More importantly, I know your view of me isn’t the truth. I am not a frail being you can take advantage of. I am a powerful, goal-oriented person who believes in love, hard work, and happiness. I have goals, and I have plans. I simply don’t believe in using others to get where I’m going. I don’t believe in leaving others in my dust as I run toward my dreams.
Regardless, know that your view of me will not derail me. Your desire to use me to get to where you’re going will not work.
Not Exactly Everything Nice
And, although I still believe in the value of being nice, I’ve come to realize some of the ideals taught in childhood are over-the-top and gender slanted.
Being a nice girl doesn’t mean you always have to say “yes.” It doesn’t mean you value everyone else above yourself. It doesn’t mean you can’t stand up for yourself.
So, as my thirtieth birthday approaches, I’ve come to realize society sees nice women as weak. But thanks to you, I’ve come to realize that isn’t the truth. I’ve come to learn that sometimes the nice girl has to allow the inner fighter to emerge and flourish because being nice doesn’t mean you let yourself be degraded. I’ve learned to tweak my views and find the courage to rise up when I need to defend myself.
I still value niceness. I still try my best to adhere to some of the values from my childhood—they’ve just been adapted.
More importantly, I’ve come to realize it doesn’t matter how you or society or anyone sees me.
Niceness should not be confused with weakness because every single woman, whether made of sugar, spice, or something else, has an inner strength that shouldn’t be questioned.
You may see me as weak...but I guess that’s your mistake because apparently you aren’t looking at me hard enough. Behind my smile is a formidable force that’s surfacing. Behind my smile is a strength you aren’t willing to see.
So to the person who assumed my niceness meant I was weak...I assure you I am not.
Lindsay Detwiler is a contemporary romance author. To learn more about her seven published novels, visit www.lindsaydetwiler.com