‘Nice’ is such a bland word. Or, really, I feel as if it’s a bland word, but I don’t know if that’s because it actually is or because everybody else says so. There’s something dull and non-committal about it, like the biscuits of the same spelling that no-one wants to eat – the ones some wiseguy always says are pronounced like ‘neese‘, as if we didn’t know. And doesn’t everyone prefer custard creams?
I have always secretly wished I wasn’t nice. It feels boring. My favourite characters in TV shows are usually really mean, cutting females, like Chanel Oberlin (minus the disgusting racism) and Blair Waldorf, or ones that don’t care enough to be nice, like Effie from Skins. Once I took a quiz to find out which Skins character I was most like and answered every question as if I was Effie, but I still didn’t get her. I got Sid. Even when I’m TRYING to be a cool, elusive, sort-of uncompassionate character, I’m still Sid, or that JJ guy no-one remembers, or freaking Pandora.
The problem with being this kind of a person – and wishing you were another kind – is that you feel as if nobody takes you seriously because you don’t demand it. When Effie talks, people listen, and then probably go home to write songs about it and take MDMA. When Blair Waldorf decides she wants her birthday party at a specific venue with specific people on a specific day, it’ll go to plan or ALL HELL WILL BREAK LOOSE. She’d never have friends who didn’t show. She’d never end up sitting at a wobbly table by the toilets that she felt nervous to object to. Okay, these are fictional characters who wouldn’t be ignored or interrupted or stood up unless it was central to the plot, but it can still be hard to watch Blair’s storylines without wishing your presence was felt a little more like hers is.
I’m fairly well-liked, I’ve always figured (/hoped), but so what? Aren’t I just boring and the personification of pale blue? Blair stands up for herself and gets given macarons on the regz. Effie floats around and looks good in knee-socks and isn’t very nice to anyone. Their lives don’t even look like much fun to me but they’re snarky and exciting and unreliable and THEY DON’T TAKE ANY SHIT. Is that what I should try to be like?
Maybe a few years ago I’d have attempted a short-term reinvention, but now, I don’t think I should berate myself for being the winner of the Person Who’s Least Like Blair Waldorf award. It’s really not such a bad thing. In real life, Blair would have zero friends. People might be a bit scared of her, but would they really like her? It reminds me of a girl I know from college who posts angry Facebook messages about nameless people who are LETDOWNS AGAIN because YOU CAN’T TRUST ANYONE (angry face emoji). It’s easy to feel like she has stuff in control and sticks up for herself – because who’s not going to feel terrified at the thought of upsetting her and being referred to in a passive-aggressive status? But at the same time, who’s going to want to be her friend for long? Who’s going to have positive stuff to say about her? There’s a difference between ‘people who don’t take any shit’ and ‘people who pretend they don’t take any shit but actually just stir and create it instead’.
And, I’ve found out, people might not like the word ‘nice’ but they appreciate the people who are nice a lot more than you might think. Nice people make things calmer and don’t create problems for no reason. They’re welcoming faces when you go to a party. They make an effort to remember your name. They’re the people you want to make a fuss of when they leave your company. They’re the people you hope end up in your group project at uni because they actually bother to turn up and help out. The real-life Blairs might be feared or envied, but they’re also not often thought of affectionately in friendship groups, or in the workplace, or by the long-suffering barista at their local Starbucks. There are too many mean-spirited and indifferent people in this world. Don’t feel as if your kindness isn’t valued or noticed – or important – because it is.