And Everything Nice

Wise MB talked to me recently about not wanting to be nice about her ideas and convictions anymore. I soooo feel her. We are alike in this way, always wanting to make people feel at ease, not wanting to challenge them directly. But dammit, it’s hard to do this all of the time. Soon, your passions end up bubbling over and spilling out like the frothy, tumbling beer cup at a party. “Party foul” someone inevitably yells across the stumbling mess.

MB is this kind, reassuring, face-scrunches-cutely-when-she’s-passionate kind of gal. She’s authentic and I seriously want to sink down into the hypnotic rhythm of her raspy, sexy voice (maybe this is just her phone voice, but I adore it nonetheless). She was worried that one of her friends was feeling judged and I finally said that you cannot control that. We feel judged when we are struggling with the truth. We feel judged because something strangely resonates deep in the marrow of our bones and we are scared to let it expand because we aren’t used to this feeling. Scared it might overtake us. Scared we might change into someone we can barely recognize.

I have tried to marry the art of being both agreeable to differing views and firm with my personal stances. I have one kind-hearted friend who says I’ve succeeded at this, that I never make her feel judged, that I always seem to see both sides of the coin. But, deep down, don’t I really believe one of the sides is shinier? And do I believe that one of the sides is worth more?

Yes, I do. And that’s the conundrum. We live in a culture that frowns a bit on disagreement, on “constructive confrontation”. It’s just so easy to push play on the “agreeable” button and move right along. And, don’t get me wrong, I also love agreeing with people. On NPR today, I hear a guest use the term “violently agree” and I nodded right away. Yes, I knew exactly what he meant and I savor those moments where my husband and I, my soul sisters, and perfect strangers violently agree. It’s powerful stuff. It is like toe-stubbing that reminds us we are alive.

Yet my soul sister T and I have an ongoing relationship of friendly disagreement. It’s refreshing. We can debate and questions each other’s spiritual and philosophical beliefs for hours and leave without saying “let’s agree to disagree”. We can simply say “I disagree” and explain ourselves. I get frantic and passionate and wave my hands around and say things like “That’s crazy, you gotta be kidding me, how in the world…?”. She gives me answers, answers with conviction. I say “I’ve never thought of it that way”, or “that’s fair”, or “that makes no sense at all.” Mostly, I say thank you.

Now, if I could manage to establish this kind of relationship with others, I’d probably be less stressed, more in tune, and generally more groovy. I’m so tired of keeping my opinions quietly to myself and waiting for others to ask, even though I know that technique can work wonders in eventually changing minds. But it’s such a slow process. And nowadays I witness how the hours morph into weeks and months in the blink of an eye. And I think, there’s just not enough time.

But, as I’ve rambled on about before, people think I’m nice this way. And how scary is it to give up being nice? Don’t we need nice people in the world? Do we serve a greater purpose by hiding our light?

I think of the human beans that have shaped my values and made lasting impressions on me. They were not nice by our typical standards. They wanted change in the world; they had a message to shout loudly above the mass of sheeple. Mr. Z and Mrs. Walls, early teachers who forced me to question everything. Under their wings, I could fly high above the world I knew and peer into something magical, mystical, and intense. Like I was watching new life hatch from robin-blue eggs.

I struggle with finding the real me. I struggle with really liking her and accepting her. No, actually, I think I struggle with the thought that others won’t like her. And perhaps that has held me back all of these years. Perhaps it’s why blogging has been a gift to me, a way to send my thoughts out into the universe, like a satellite searching for a signal of life outside these walls and this screen.

And when I heard the “ping” and “beep” and “blip” of that new life, I could no longer hide.

So, up next, an experimental new chapter in my blogs: Honesty. Not “I’m gonna be an opinionated ____monger and you can shove it” honesty. I just don’t roll like that. But “hey world, here’s what I really feel and why I feel it and I won’t dance around it anymore and I’m open to discussion ‘cause I wanna learn and please, please, please still like me” honesty. After all, THAT’S how I roll.

2 thoughts on “And Everything Nice

  1. thanks for linking this on my blog. i really enjoyed reading it. it sounds like we share a lot of the same thoughts on this topic. we both are very passionate about things, but have always been thought of as the “nice girl” and so we don’t want to step on any toes while sharing our views. i’m going to try to be more honest on my blog. we’ll see what happens. i know it will be a work in progress.

    hugs!

  2. Here is a quote that I have on my “About Me” page, that a counselor shared with me many years ago. It is good for me to re-read, when I feel like shrinking back. I especially like the “playing small” part. Hope it helps.

    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.

    Marianne Williamson

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