I'll never forget this extremely cool guy I was into when I was nineteen and stationed in Germany. What's-His-Name (I can't actually remember his name) was a biker and weightlifter. I met him at the gym where he ruled. After sufficient adoration directed from me to him, he asked me on a date—a ride to a nightclub where bikers gathered.
He didn't have much to say, and he spent more time looking at the mirrors lining the back wall than he did at me, but I was shallow enough to still have a fantastic time.
I was witty and charming—a legend in my own mind.
Apparently, he was not. After our date an awkward dodging period ensued in the gym among barbells—until it became embarrassing and I opted for the running club. A few months later, I spotted him at the commissary in the bakery section. I went in for the hello and what happened? and did I do something wrong????
Not the best move, but I was only nineteen.
He equivocated for a minute or two, hamburger buns in hand, before he came out with it—I was too nice for him.
Oh, great. Drive spikes into my coffin and call me dead.
Nice was guy code for uninteresting, boring, the far opposite of sexy. Like any girl with a shred of pride (not), I tried to convince him I wasn't really nice—but that turned him into the most uncomfortable-weightlifting-biker you'd ever want to see. I felt bad, tried to beef him up again.
Yeah, another nice gesture.
Which made his declaration hurt that much more.
It took a couple of years to come to terms with my niceness, not that I embraced it, merely accepted it.
And then two things happened.
The first was that I began to feel a genuine kindred-ness with others.
Kindred comes from kin. When we talk about kindred spirits, we are talking about qualities we share that go beyond earthly ties—though technically kin are the people we are connected to by blood.
Blood—maybe that's why there's also a divine quality about it.
Kindness also comes from kin. Kindness born of connection. Of love.
It is unconditional.
It connotes respect for others and self.
Nice is more about pleasing others—telling them what they want to hear in order to receive validation. It's about making others beholden to us. Nice people seek approval. They give out in the hopes that they will get back. And when they don't get back, they become resentful.
That guy (whose name I can't remember) had been right. I was too nice.
Life was the second thing that happened.
I learned that even intrinsically kind people can have their buttons pushed and become unkind.
There's nothing more humbling than to hear yourself say horrible things to another human being, or to watch yourself behave in a manner that goes against everything you say you believe.
You can also ask me.
So I've sought and hoped for less niceness and more kindness to make up my person. I've also become more appreciative for every kind molecule floating among these innards. I will never take kindness for granted or wish it away for something cooler, socially speaking.
First, because I am not cool.
And second because I've seen what un-kindness looks like on me—it's ugly.
Deeply, permeatingly ugly.
I can handle boring and uninteresting, but I can't handle ugly.
And THIS is the drawn out explanation for why I've drug my feet on alienating the majority of my friends by writing a post entitled: Ten Things I Dislike (and why).
Number one was going to be: Why I Dislike Disney World
I could lose a slew of friends over just that one, and it would have been the tamest.
I'm not afraid of losing friends, but I couldn't write the post that way—it felt like ugly could bubble up among those thoughts and words.
I've decided instead to turn it around, write: Ten Things I Like (and why)
Number one will be: Why I Love Vacations that Don't Include Disney World
Like my friend Cat B. whose blog is titled, "A Work in Progress"—you should check it out—I'm also a work in progress.
All in Goodwill (and Kindness),