Art and Love from Me to You

she’s such a nice girl

I am nice.

Really. I am so good at being nice. For most of my life this has served me very well.

This niceness.

It’s easy to get along with others when you are nice. You have lots of friends when you are nice. People mostly like you…when you are nice.

I think my first lesson in niceness began in the womb. My mother has a deep seated belief that girls should be respectable and polite. They should follow directions and obey all of the rules. Listen. Not talk back. Not wear out their welcome. Not speak too crossly to adults. Be agreeable. Respect people who are older. Not swear. (Oh no, swearing is very bad for girls.) Be soft-spoken. Not dress like a hussy. Be good. Be nice…

I have a mother who loves me and always has. She learned to be nice from her mother who probably learned from her mother, and who knows how far back this nice-thing goes.

Lately though, I have been re-thinking my deeply ingrained niceness. At times it feels like a manipulation (I want people to like me.) Like a falseness. Like something that isn’t really true for me any more.

It’s not that I’m not nice. It’s that I am not nice, all the time.

Sometimes, I judge people. Not for the way their hair looks or how they dress, but for bigger things like- I judge people who are against gay marriage. Why? I just don’t get it.

Sometimes, I swear. Actually, I swear a lot.

Sometimes, I get jealous. And, feel ashamed of it. And then feel ashamed that I am ashamed because I am working on shame issues. (But, that’s another post altogether.) I get jealous of other artists, of my teenage step-daughter who weighs 80 pounds soaking wet, and of people who make loads of money.

As I am learning to be true to myself, I’m finding out that sometimes this means I need to let go of the niceness for what is really there. I am a woman with a wide range of feelings and emotions, but often the not-so-pretty thoughts get hushed for the niceness.

I’m new at learning to be true to myself and not always very graceful in my delivery. Like the time when I was recently interrupted at a meeting and practically screamed and probably spit, “I WAS TALKING!” Everyone’s huge eyeballs were staring at me. My cheeks turned red. I completely forgot what I was going to say.

I am a whole woman. Good and bad, compassionate and angry, loving and indifferent.

For 2011, I intend to be kind and nice when that is what feels right, not out of a programmed way of reacting. I imagine that I will naturally be kind most of the time. I really am nice. I also intend to say no when my heart feels no, to disagree, to speak up when I am frustrated and angry, and to set boundaries when needed. I intend to do this even if I am a little rough around the edges and unruly and uncomfortable…and even if my face turns red. It’s okay.

Thank you, inner nice girl. You have served me well and continue to a big part of who I am. Welcome to the surface, inner unpleasant girl. Thanks for keeping it real.

Shared on Roots of She, Dec. 27, 2010

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