“Oh, she’s so nice.”
That’s usually how people describe me behind closed doors, and I take great pride in it. I always go out of my way to make someone smile when they’re feeling down or lend a helping hand whenever possible. In general, I do whatever I can to make everyone happy and fulfill their needs, whether it’s simply asking them about their day or running an errand for them. I like being nice and being nice has generally brought me nothing but positive interactions with the people I spend my time with, but there comes a point where I have to ask myself, “Am I putting the needs of others ahead of my own?”
I like to think I’ve always been nice. It’s never been hard for me to make friends or get along with my peers because I cater to their wants and needs; in a way, I mold myself into a different person when I meet a new person and become someone they would want to be friends with. I avoid confrontation at all costs, so I do anything in my power to make sure that my friends have no reason to be upset with me. Because of this, my friends’ thoughts and desires weigh heavily on my mind to the point where I basically refuse to make decisions as to not go against them. Even just deciding where to go to eat with my friends is a hard task for me because I want to make sure that everyone ends up with something they’ll enjoy, and what I want doesn’t matter to me in the slightest.
Looking back as the almost 21-year-old woman I am now, I can see how there were many instances growing up when people took advantage of my niceness. In both friendships and relationships, I never put myself first or take the time to realize what I’m actually doing. If someone tells me to do something, I’ll drop whatever I’m doing at the moment and race to finish the task they’ve asked of me. With that being said, I don’t think these people are actively aware that they’re taking advantage of me because I’m happy to do whatever someone asks of me. Instead of realizing that I literally cannot say no, they just see me as being nice and helpful, which aren’t bad things to be. I can’t even begin to recount the times — there are more than I care to admit — I’ve done something I didn’t want to do, put on a fake smile or held a conversation about something I completely disagreed with just to avoid making someone else upset. I work so hard to make people happy and sometimes it’s exhausting; I come home after a day out or hanging out with friends and I have to take a few moments to just breathe and focus on myself.
I know I need to make a change, but I like being nice. I like knowing that other people find me sweet and fun to be around, and I like being reliable. It’s satisfying to know that people can count on me to be there whenever they need me, even if it’s not always the best time for me. I have this self-image in my head of a girl who is sweet, caring, thoughtful and helpful, and I don’t want to tarnish that image. That is the person I want people to see me as, but I just hope that people actually appreciate what I do for them and the lengths I go to instead of just brushing it off as being nice. Even if it’s just running to the next room to grab a friend’s computer, that’s still something they could’ve done themselves but I chose to do it for them. I care so much about people’s feelings and I just want that to be recognized in my acts of kindness because to me grabbing a computer for my friend means a lot more than just grabbing a computer.
I am nice. I am helpful. While there’s nothing wrong with being these things, I know my niceness can be unhealthy for me. I need to learn how to stand up for myself in situations that can do more harm than good when it comes to what I deserve. Relationships and friendships are supposed to be 50/50 but a lot of times I give more than I take, and I recognize that. Growth isn’t linear and it certainly isn’t quick, and even though I already feel old, I have plenty of time to figure out how to be strong and independent while maintaining my niceness and self-image. I know I have it in me to be the best version of myself, but maybe that version already exists and she’s sitting here writing this article, worrying about being too nice. So maybe I am “too nice” after all, but that’s OK for now.