Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nice is not always Nice


This is a secret to success, that I am just now learning.  I've tried all my life to be a "nice" person.  Only a few months into this year, I found that something wasn't working for me.  Well, a lot of somethings.  Not only was I having a mental breakdown of sorts, a lot of things felt out of whack.

I longed to work on my career again, but also longed to keep giving my kids the benefits of having a stay at home parent.  I wanted to have time for myself, but also felt pressured to involve my kids in more.  And finally, I liked using social media for social connection since I don't get out much or know very many people where I live.  Once I was on the social media (Facebook for example) I felt the need to leave nice comments for others, keep track of what they were doing, and generally keep up to date with their lives.

I wanted to be "nice."

It wasn't until just recently I realized how much of my time and feelings I was giving away in pursuit of this "niceness" that wasn't really reaping any benefits for anyone.  There was a big "scandal" amongst a group of my high school friends about religion and gay rights.  I tried to leave respectful comments, show them that I cared about their viewpoints, and again spend time on what I thought was being "nice."  In the end, I had many friendships end, tons of useless arguments, and plenty of hurt feelings of my own to cry about.

While trying to sort through where my "niceness" went wrong, I realized I was wasting my life.  I had spent over a year trying to give support and positive wishes to a person who I had never known well in real life and who promptly let everyone on Facebook know that if we didn't vote the same as her she didn't want our friendship.  Turns out I have plans to vote for someone different than her.  I obeyed her wishes, and have been surprised how freeing its been.  It wasn't long after the disconnection that I realized she had never really known what was going on in my life or expressed sympathies for my struggles, it was simply a one-way friendship.  And while I am willing to give to someone who can't give back, I will only put forth that effort when it seems necessary or needed.  And in this case, I realized it wasn't.  And I was free.

I've had this experience in real life, with one-sided friendships and the ending of them was so extremely painful.  For two reasons:  1.  Realizing I'd been a poor judge of character, but mostly 2.  I became lonely when faced with being alone for a time instead of with fake friends.

I hope I am learning these lessons well enough to counsel my kids when they come of an age where they feel so dependent on friends and peer approval.  I hope I can show that we are more important than what a few people judge us as.  And that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally as only a parent can, and His view of us is what's important.


12 comments:

  1. This was a great post Bobi! I have painfully ended a couple of friendships in the past for similar reasons (primarily because they were one-sided, but it took me years to realize it), although I don't think I was able to clarify my thoughts as well as you have. I appreciate your insights. Something else along the "being nice" idea that I have been learning lately is the art of expressing my needs or even just saying no. For example, someone once asked me to watch their kids for a whole day on a day my husband was going to be off of work. I replied with some lengthy explanation about how I would need to talk to my husband, think about our plans for the day, etc. and I would get back to her, deep down knowing that it would be a huge imposition. When I finally got back to her and had the courage to say it wouldn't work out, I think it ended up being more offensive to her than if I had just said "I'm so sorry I can't do it that day" and ended it right there when she asked. If I hadn't tried to be nice, I think it would have been over and done with, but instead it became kind of a big deal with her. The same goes with expressing my needs with family members, etc. Instead of giving long explanations with lots of excuses, reasons, and options of why I would like to do something (being nice) I'm learning it's actually better for everyone involved if I just say what I need, and that's actually a very positive thing. As always, I love your blog and am grateful for you! I hope back to school is going well for your girls!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Heather! I agree, it's always so hard for me to say no. Being honest is always kinder in the end, but its hard! Thanks for sharing, I always love your perspective and that you understand me so well. Hope your "empty nest" for a few hours is going ok...have you adjusted?

      Delete
    2. Thanks Bobi! It is an interesting adjustment having them all at school. The time flies, as I knew it would. I'm starting to feel the need to put myself on some kind of schedule because it is becoming disorienting to spend all day floating from one project in the house to another and back again. I also learned pretty quickly that having the tv on all day for noise is not good for my spirit, even though it wasn't "bad" tv that I was watching. I need some silence too. And some music. And something that will stimulate me like Conference talks. I put off a lot of the unpacking and sorting from our move during the summer because I didn't want to work on it while the kids were home. Now that they are at school I'm going strong on it (blech, too much junk!). Once I'm done (I have to be done eventually), I'm going to sign up for a class and start studying for the GRE.

      Delete
  2. I'm amazed at the level of discourse I have been seeing lately. Everything has become an I'm right, You're wrong and stupid and have no idea. When, really, all political realities are nuanced and shaded and different viewpoints should be ignored at the least, but hopefully respected. I'm sorry you had to go through this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, its been kind of weird. Not the drama I need in my life - especially with people I never see in real life. I'm thankful for prayer and my own REAL family that have needs to keep me on course.

      Delete
  3. I really appreciate your wisdom, Bobi. This was incredibly well-written and thought-provoking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, that means a lot coming from you!

      Delete
  4. I too have been "nice" when I just need to strengthen my own emotional needs - but did not want anyone to see the me who was sinking in a pit of despair. I had a breakdown and was hospitalized for a week. I learned more about prayer and that it was okay to be alone for awhile. If you look back on your life and realize that always being the nice girl really didn't add any value to your life, you feel sorrow for the time gone, there is time needed to mourn.
    Friends are real, they don't care who you vote for, or what church you favor, they accept you because of that big heart inside. And friendship is not all one sided.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing this...it sounds like you "get" just what I mean. You may be anonymous but I'm thankful for your friendship you've shown by sharing your heart :).

      Delete
  5. Thanks for posting this! It's nice to see some honest opinions online and were willing to share a lesson learned. Your link was one of the most clicked on my blog so I'm featuring Wednesday!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow .. what a heart felt post. I can very much relate to this so thank you for being so honest and transparent. I let a high-school friend go this past year when she felt she could just dump and me, regardless of how "nice" I tried to be it made her more aggressive. Found this on "What I Learned Wednesday". Thanks again! pippa
    www.shopwithpippa.com

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for your comments~!