We have grown up in a culture where being nice to others is deemed to fetch some serious secret rewards. If it were to be true, I deserve nothing less than a Lamborghini for all the times my behavior was A-1. The biggest mystery of my adult life is understanding who’s giving the scores when I’m wishing my farthest cousin’s second son on his birthday, putting the best lilac sheets on when a guest is visiting, or cramming an email with fifteen words like please, kindly, requesting, and so on. No, who is it?
While I’m all for being kind and generous and even indulging in clichés like greeting people in the mornings, I’m not a fan of being nice ALL THE TIME. The problem with lacing your acts with oodles of niceness is that it gets exhausting when you’re not in the right headspace. This very cryptic reasoning fuels the fictitious notion that niceness is the default, and not conforming to it is suggestive of being impolite or rude. The entire concept of putting on a flawless facade all the time to be lauded as nice (and its synonyms) is archaic, frivolous, and people-pleasing at its finest.
Throughout my teenage years, the hardest task on my mental to-do list was to understand where I fit in. Okay, let’s call it the second hardest — the first was to make peace with hair fall (little did I know it’d get even nastier in the 20s). My college years have come to the rescue in helping me figure myself out to a large extent. Thanks to the shows I watched, books I read, people I met, and situations I encountered. I somehow managed to make a decent sense of who I am, and one thing I know I am not is nice.
Would I check on that long-distance friend who I know isn’t doing good? Yes. Would I lend money to a relative when they need it? Yes. Would I help a stranger old lady in the metro with her ticket? Absolutely yes. You get the idea. Now, these are the things I would, and any sane, civilized person would do, given that they have what it takes.
Just when I think all these ardent yeses make me a nice person, a handful of twisted questions beckon. Am I nice enough to walk around with a wide smile at a family gathering right after an argument with my mom? Erm, No. Am I nice enough to shut up and listen to someone disrespecting me just because they’re a decade or two older than me? Most likely not. Am I nice enough to act like I’m enjoying a seemingly engaging conversation filled with narcissism and fake doings? Sorry, my gag reflexes and I decided No.
At any given point in time, would I rather be nice or myself? You know the answer.
The mystery still remains — WHO’S GIVING THE SCORES???
Pro tip: Be nice, but don’t make it your whole damn personality.