Diaspora Diaries, Chapter 7: Nice for What?

Much like the Walgreens brand of everything, I’m Nice. I’ve always been fun, easy to get along with, considerate and cool, but “Nice” is a new one for me. New Yorkers call me nice, and by a process of experimentation, I would have to agree.

With a history of push-over-ness, I’m always careful about being the tree. You know, the one the monkey knows to climb? I’ve definitely been that tree.

Being too nice means that people walk all over you, and I have tried to compensate with ghosting. If you’re not good energy, I won’t ever be ugly to you., you just won’t ever hear from me again. I saw that in a meme once; “I don’t hold grudges. We good, but you’ll never see me again.” Totes me. So hearing the word “nice” used to describe me so often recently, has me questioning myself.

Between friends, Uber drivers and restaurant wait staff, the consensus has been “Nice.” That is the word. Not “Pleasant”, not “Sweet”, not “Agreeable”. I’m nice.

I do take it as a compliment, but there is a tone of forewarning that comes with it. You can’t be too nice in New York. People will eat you right up and spit out the bones. Everyone finds it so easy to ask for my time, money and connections, while I constantly try to do everything on my own. Asking a favour is a gargantuan task.

At a recent picnic, one girlfriend was shopping on Tinder for another girlfriend. (Side note: if you need a Tinder Personal Shopper, I have the matchmaker for you!) While the table of women screamed “no way!” at the self-employed entrepreneur, I wanted to give him a chance. So what if he lives at home with his Mom and may or may not have a job at all? So what if he opens with a poem, copy and pasted to all the women he calls “Tinderella”? (Okay, I’m sorry, even I’m not that nice. Sorry Tinderfella. I can’t with the poem.)

Photo by Colville Heskey

Am I really too nice?! Has this niceness corrupted my standards? Am I willing to settle because I want to give everyone a chance? When will I stop confusing nice, with pushover?

Being nice has kept me too long in relationships, both platonic and romantic. It has also led me to be the butt of many family jokes since I would never defend myself in fear of hurting the offender. It has made me feel guilty in situations when people are irrationally upset with me. I’m always trying to make everyone happy, but who cares about me as much?

New York has forced to me start saying “No”. I am extremely uncomfortable with it, but it is a word that I am learning, is not antonymous with kindness, but instead, may actually be the kindest thing I can say. Maybe I should ghost less when I feel some type of way, and speak up. “No, I don’t like that.” Or, “No, I don’t want to come to that.” Clarity and openness are underrated qualities.

While I love that being nice comes easily to me, and I have not been embittered by life’s experiences, I strive for balance. In my new life of New York minutes, I need to be more considerate of my own time. I need to be selective about the company I choose and how I spend my short days. Everything goes by so fast here, and I am always trying to split myself a thousand ways to please everyone. Less and less will this continue, as more and more I’m going to reserve these niceties for me own self.

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