Over the past few weeks of seeing my therapist, I'm not really sure if I've been helped all that much (as of yet), but one thing I certainly do enjoy greatly is all of the revelations I come to after I leave a session. Eh, maybe that's the point? Anywho, I'm learning more and more about myself from simply talking to someone who barely talks back (sorta like blogging... but she's like right in my face so I know she's listening... I have no clue who all reads this)! This past week's session sparked from the most mundane of places but spiraled into something quite enthralling. When I was in Detroit, I met up with a few old friends. One male friend, in particular, mentioned something about my hair looking nice. I instinctively said, "I know". Not thinking too much of it, my response was brought up later in the day, accompanied by the notion that what I SHOULD have said was 'thank you'. Obviously, I got defensive and stood firmly by my original response. Why couldn't I be in agreement with a compliment? Is a thank you always expected or even necessary in certain circumstance or scenarios? It reminded me of an interesting article I saw online one day about a girl who did an experiment where she agreed with every compliment she received online . The results? A lot of the guys went on to call her conceited, vain, and even took back their initial compliment! I've always thought that people should be nice because they wanna be, not to receive a "thank you" or anything else out of it. If you don't it shouldn't take away your meaning it. In thinking of all this, I tried to look deeper into myself and the roots of the way I act and respond to others, and I have to wonder...am I just not a nice person?
I mean, I know I'm not the nicest person in the world, but it's finally time for me to analyze why. Sure, I've acknowledged it before in a number of ways, and maybe I've even semi tried to sort of be nicer sometimes, but without realizing from where it stems, the problem will persist. One realization I came up with was that I generally act this way more towards men than women. Going back a few years (maybe more than a few, but at my age, time is a blur), women and men had a different dynamic than we do now. At least in my little world. A man would give a compliment and I would mostly cringe at its inappropriateness or awkwardly react and try not to incite more conversation. If I was on the receiving end of a compliment and I didn't respond, respond enthusiastically enough, or even dare to agree with the compliment, I was seen as rude, ungrateful, or some other derogatory term. This is all, of course, different in the rare chance I’m actually interested. It was just hard to navigate life like that all the time; being expectedly courteous to all who were complimentary, or being berated when I didn't. I've seen many a girl in my day who were being super nice to everyone... getting taken advantage of the most. I've seen it! There is also a statistic I came across recently that states 89% of men mistake a woman’s niceness for flirting (not sure how true the exact percentage is, but I guarantee its high) . All in all, I think that over my lifetime, I've just gotten tired of being nice for societal standard's sake.
Perhaps I'm even taking the once bitten twice shy approach due to the situations of the past. As my naivete diminishes, my innate ferociousness increases (wow, don't think I've ever used the word ferociousness before). I now bite before being bitten...wether deserving or not. I've grown to become very untrusting of men and their intentions in general. I've never really gotten that much respect from them, so why should I be so quick to give it? But is this any way to be in the world? Doing what has been done to you to others? In theory, no, it's not. I don't really want to be like that, but how does one defend themselves without being so defensive? It's very interesting to analyze all of this and notice the phases I've gone through over the course of my lifetime. It makes me even more curious as to where I will be on the subject in another few years. Probably completely different from any of my other previous attitudes! In a perfect world, I really would like to give every single person I meet a 'clean slate' if you will. A blank canvas as to not judge them by their gender, color, orientation, or any other thing. It's hard!
Generally speaking though, everyone has a different idea of what exactly "being nice" means. My version of "nice" could be completely different than another person's version. Every one of us is exposed to varying levels of congeniality on a daily basis, which in turn gives us different levels of expectations. For example, being in New York, I'm much more use to a curt and concise human interaction experience. When I visit other places, perhaps in the south, I'm met with a seeming necessity for loquacious pleasantries. Just like when I went to Hawaii last month, everyone there was so overwhelmingly nice, it pretty much changed MY mood for the week. I was much more outgoing there, more friendly, talkative...all kinds of crap I never am in real life! So I suppose it depends on our environment. When switching environments or visiting, it can be hard to adjust to the other auras at first, perhaps even causing conflicts or misunderstandings. It's important that we are aware that there, in fact, IS a difference in order for all types to coexist.
The thing I have noticed about my attitude shifts, it really does greatly depend on the energy I'm surrounded by. I may go into an environment with my guard all the way up and ready with my claws out to swipe at any poor unfortunate soul whom I may come across, but if that environment welcomes me with open arms, a box of cookies and general geniality, my heart of stone has no choice but to turn to jelly. That being said, I've also realized that I just flat out don't have many genuine male friends (who aren't currently or have ever been into me at some point in time). On a day to day basis, I interact with almost exclusively women. People are most precautionary about what they aren't exposed to. Maybe I need more guy friends! Like, just a regular ole guy friend. Is that why girls have gay guy friends? So they can have a proper male perspective on life without all the unfavorable frills of unrequited attraction? Who knows! I want to learn more about what I don't understand for sure, so I can definitely start to be more open about letting people see my "nice side". Contrary to popular belief, I think being nice actually feels good. We may not think others deserve our kindness, but letting them determine our mood is equally as undeserving. Also people, I still stand by my other notion of not feeling obligated to be OVERLY nice if you don't feel like it. Sure, people give compliments for a number of reasons, many to which I can barely decipher... but it's for me to respond to as I see fit. We shouldn't ever feel like we OWE someone something simply because it's the polite thing to do. Hopefully, I will have more insight on this subject as I continue to discover more about myself and others. It will definitely be a process people, but nothing good ever came easy! As always, let me know your thoughts!
P.s. (Compatible to popular belief, being mean is also kinda fun, but that's uncouth to say!)
P.p.s. Did anybody catch that Little Mermaid reference I made?
P.p.p.s. Surprisingly enough (but not that surprisingly), getting a compliment from a girl gets almost a completely opposite reaction. I give an overwhelming thank you almost every time. I suppose because it's much rarer that a girl will compliment another girl (not even in a queer way (Happy pride month btw)), that we just get so excited and genuinely appreciate the sentiment. It just means more I guess. I have yet to fully understand the phenomenon, but it's true.