By Tanya Tiger
Sometimes I worry that I come on too strong.
At times I’ve been accused of being “too nice.” When I meet new people I jump right in and take a genuine interest in them and their lives (not in a creepy stalker type of way, more like a new puppy with kids kind of way—always excited to see my new friends).
People have told me, after knowing me for a while, that in the beginning of our friendship they thought I was “faking it.” They explained that they had gotten so used to people “having an angle,” that when I was nice to them, and expressed genuine interest in them, they thought I was “too good to be true.” I was taken aback by this at first, and I wondered how often people took my kindness for ego or general deceptiveness.
How many times did someone think, “She’s way too nice/interested/kind/etc. She must be looking for something!”
I am also worried that I came across as self-righteous—being kind simply to seem better than everyone else or more enlightened. On the other end of the spectrum, I was bombarded with others’ concerns that I was naïve and would be easily taken advantage of if I kept up this “niceness.”
All of these thoughts had my head spinning until I finally said, “Hold up, wait a minute! Since when did ‘kind’ become a four-letter-word?”
I mean, I was raised to be nice and all, to treat my neighbor as myself, but by no means do I think that makes me fake, naïve, or fragile in anyway. How is it that our society has come to see nice people as fake or being kind as being weak? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I would take a smile from a stranger over a sneer any day of the week.
What gives? Do we see more sincerity in the sneer than in the smile?
Now believe me, I am by no means super-sticky-sweet. I smile at strangers, offer a helping hand when someone needs it, support all kinds of causes, and go out of my way to cheer for the underdog. However, I also have my fair share of sass, spunk and downright bitchiness.
I am human after all. I have multitudes within me.
I think that a vast majority of my concern stems from the thought that children are growing up seeing words like care, kind, nice and hope as four-letter-words.
They see competition—often cut-throat—all around them from sports to popular reality TV shows. They see scheming and plotting, back-stabbing and gossiping, defamation of character and blatant lying as ways to “get to the top.” They see hope as a lie and choose cynicism instead. They want to play it safe and protect themselves from getting hurt, but at what expense?
How is that being accepting of one another’s differences, of helping one another through hard times, of putting other’s needs above our wants, has become a bad thing?
Maybe I am naïve, but I will take naivety over being hateful, hurtful and unkind every single time. I’d rather live in a world where a smile is genuine, people mean well and have kind hearts, and no one is really “out to get me,” even if it’s a world of my own creating.
To be kind does not equal being weak.
To care does not make us gullible.
To be nice does not mean we have to be doormats.
All of these traits are what build the foundation for an incredibly strong human being with a reinforced soul. These are the traits that sustain us.
Above all, hope is what keeps us going when we have nothing left.
Editor: Alicia Wozniak