Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I think most schools have those horrid class voting things for things like "most popular" "nicest smile" "class clown" etc. I went to Catholic school for 13 years (K - 12th). For those of you who merely think about Brittany Spears in a short plaid skirt or nuns who beat children with yardsticks, you are only partially right. My class size in 8th grade was about 28 kids. These 28 kids were the same 28 kids I saw everyday in from Kindergarten until the last day of 8th grade and most of them again throughout high school.

Catholic school is truly a great social experiment and my experience had flashes of Lord of the Flies pretty consistently. This was lead by that one girl, the "most popular" who had her minions of lemmings who were truly afraid of this person who ultimately upon retrospect had zero self-confidence. I recall receiving my "yearbook" (I put this in quotes because it wasn't really a book more then some paper stapled together) at the end of 8th grade and found myself laughing at the labels my classmates very democratically assigned to themselves via "most popular" "smartest" "most likely to succeed" etc. I was the winner of "Nicest" and "Nicest Eyes" AKA everyone has to get something on this list so Nicest seems like a good label for you.

And they were right. I am nice. I'm really nice. I try to live my life by that golden rule Mrs. Maloney in kindergarten always talked about treating others as you would like to be treated. Not everyone plays by those rules, that is quite apparent, but I do. Being nice can be a drag too. I find myself not speaking what's truly on my mind for fear of upsetting another person, hurting their feelings. The problem with the word nice is it's a bunk adjective. People describe other people as nice when they don't have anything else to say. Much akin to, "How are you?" "I'm good thanks." That says nothing. Too bad when describing someone as "nice" you can't have a little video that pops up to demonstrate what you mean, demonstrated examples to bolster one of the most overused adjectives in the English language.

I recently stopped being nice and started speaking honestly. I am a believer in tact and taking the context of a situation into consideration before yapping away, but I'm realizing being nice doesn't truly help anyone. It definitely doesn't help me express what I am truly feeling and thinking to a person and it marginalizes the other person. I'm assuming through observation and emphathy that someone might not like what I have to say and they might not, but at least it will be true and meaningful and convey respect for that other person. The truth can hurt, no doubt about that, but perpetuating nice leads to complacency and stunted growth. Life is too short to simply be nice in all its bland glory.