I was scrolling through my inbox last week and a subject line caught my eye. It was a simple question but one that spoke volumes to me. Is Your Kindness Viewed As Weakness?
I usually delete the emails from Marie Forleo (then why subscribe you ask? No idea) but instead I actually took the time to read and watch the video that accompanied it. Then I sat. And sat. Lost in thought.
When I was in seventh grade, my Language Arts teacher asked the class to describe a classmate. The boy who had my name said I was nice. He didn’t say it sarcastically; it was quite genuine. I remember feeling really good about it. Sure he could have said I was pretty or smart or maybe talented in some way, but he didn’t. He said I was nice.
I have always been a people-pleaser. I have always wanted people to like me. It has taken me a long time to accept the fact that those “goals” are simply unrealistic. There are individuals that I don’t care for, so why should everyone care for me? I’ve had to adjust my expectations. I’ve had to work hard not to care so much. And let’s face it, I still care. But whether or not a person likes me, I try my best to always be kind…always be nice. (Well, unless you go after a friend or family member…then my claws might come out.)
I have often seen my “niceness”as a weakness, like that boy you liked in high school who was TOO nice. I have seen friends and family say things in a harsh manner, react aggressively or come back to ugliness with a witty, stabbing remark and been insanely jealous. I don’t know how to do that. I can’t just say what I’m thinking (not that you always should). I can’t just shrug things off. I take things personally. I feel immensely.
It’s just who I am.
As I’ve aged, I’ve learned to control it. I used to wear my heart on my sleeve. If I felt something, everyone in the room knew it. I hated it.
I remember in a performance review several years ago, my boss told me she had no idea what I was thinking, that my face gave no indication of how I was feeling. She meant it as a negative, but I was thrilled. YES!!!! I’ve conquered it, I thought.
I’m not so sure it was a good thing, manipulating that part of me.
I’m at a point in my life where I’m evaluating everything. I have two impressionable children in front of me and I
want need them to understand what it means to be a good person. I want my son to know that being nice, being kind is NOT a weakness. He can be a strong, fierce leader and still be kind. My daughter, who is like me in almost every way, needs to know that being true to herself is the greatest gift. I want them to own who they are and let it shine!
Sounds dumb, doesn’t it? Of course I want that. Don’t we all? I’m sure my mother wanted that for me, and yet, here I am, approaching 40 and I’m just figuring all this out. Or trying to figure it out anyway.
It’ll probably never happen. I’m sure if I ask my 91 year old grandmother her thoughts, she’ll have some grand advice, but no concrete answers. I wish it wasn’t so hard, owning and accepting who you are. We all want some things to be different and honestly, if we want it bad enough, we can make changes. I needed to control my emotions at my job and I did it. But it was not easy and in the end, I still haven’t decided if it was necessary. Perhaps some of it naturally came with maturity. I’m not sure.
I am who I am. I’m an easygoing person who avoids conflict. I’m honest, but careful with the words I choose. I care about others to a fault. I’m sensitive. I cry easily.
I’m also strong and independent and a host of other things. I’m not a doormat.
Kindness is NOT my weakness. I may not be the most talented, the most assertive, the most(insert any adjective you want here) but I’m nice. And I’m cool with that. At almost 40, I’m totally owning nice.