(It was just a couple of days ago that I posted Open Doors, a writing on being a giver and encouraging givers to continue to give. Then the below writing popped up on my Facebook timeline from three years ago today. It’s amazing how it is exactly in line with what I wrote just 2 days ago. Check out Nice Girl 101.)
I was raised to be nice. To be sweet, accommodating. This for me in my teens and 20’s translated into a major dose of “have to please you” syndrome, with a side of “I have to have your validation” at all times. Couple this with becoming a Christian when I was 14, under the teaching that I am always to be a representation of Christ, and you had a young woman who would be pleasant at all times, at all costs. The teachings I received were good ones, very good ones, but without balance these teachings can be harmful.
The first person I ever heard question the harm in being too nice was Dr. Robin Smith. She was a regular guest on Oprah about 10 years back. It sounded like she was raised like me and was speaking right out of my spirit as she discussed how you cannot be nice in all situations. Drama and causing more confusion never helps in an already heated environment, but there are times to call a spade a spade and deal your cards appropriately.
When people aim to take advantage of you, to make small of your presence, or worse, to harm you, is the nice girl to give them full reign in her life and in her space? What about folks who don’t respect your boundaries or just don’t have basic respect for you. In my teaching I was to treat them as if offenses never happened, or as if these folk really had the best intentions, they were just misguided. Well as misguided as those poor souls might have been, as I’ve gotten older I’ve found that not everyone needs to be given another opportunity to use you as a test tube in their experimentation of how to treat people. There are folk who have no graciousness in their hearts and who are inherently selfish, or who set out with the goal of using someone or abusing someone. That’s just real, that’s just truth. Ask the parent of a molested child, or a battered wife. People have the capacity for good and evil, they choose.
So with my turning 40 later this year I’ve found myself in somewhat of an identity crises. I am attempting to balance my need to help, assist, encourage, and give, (the Nice Girl Personality Prerequisite), with the need to not be available to those with ill intent, or those who could care less about helping me or anyone else. Or those with a low opinion of me and my worth. My struggle is not so much in discerning good natured folk from vultures, but in knowing when not to give of myself when I know a vulture is in my midst. Not being open, warm and nice goes against my nature which is why this has become one of my greatest struggles in my life.
Yet scripture warns us against casting our pearls among swine. Clearly if the Words from God offers this, He is acknowledging that there would be swine among us. Swine only know how to rummage through garbage, they only know how to create more garbage. So why offer your skills, ear, heart, talents, or money to them? That’s what I keep reminding myself. I’m looking for the balance between my tendency to ignore an offense all together with not calling out each and every one before me. The idea that I’ve arrived to this place and can even call abuse or bad behavior out as an offense is truly a miracle if you knew where I started.
Center stage to this balancing act is a reuniting with family that I hadn’t been around in my adulthood much at all. Some of which either do not know the 39.5 year old Tiff, or who may not appreciate her perspective, path or pathology. As I’ve shed some of my “Nice Girl” skin and taken on my “Pure Intentions, Want the Best for You, But Don’t Play Me Skin”, there are those who would love that I keep the skin which was familiar to them. But I must continue to find my balance and fight for my stand. To gain the balance between what I will tolerate and what I must remove myself from all together. The work continues but one thing I know for sure, I’m standing, I’m standing, I’m whole, I’m who God says I am not what man says. I’m going to my higher level even when others don’t see my finish line or understand my journey. I’m walking and that’s sure better than standing. I’m standing, I’m whole, I’m who God says I am not what man says. I’m going to my higher level even when others don’t see my finish line or understand my journey. I’m walking and that’s sure better than standing.