Thought Catalog
August 9, 2013

Don’t Be Nice!

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What is the issue?

Seriously. Don’t be nice. I’ve tried it and just don’t. It’s a total waste of your time. I’m not suggesting you be an unrepentant dick or selfish bitch. I’ve tried that, too. It doesn’t work any better. Sure, you’ll fuck a lot more but you’re left feeling rather empty and you spend your time around the only people who can stand you, other dicks/bitches and the weak-ass people who want to impress you. So if those are the two poles — selfishness and “being nice” — what are we left with? What’s the gray area? What’s best way for you to be? Good questions. Ready for a really simple answer?

Be you. The real you. The vulnerable and authentic you. The you who has boundaries and is unwilling to cross them… for even the sweetest reward. Hold onto your integrity. And to be that person you respect sometimes you have to be willing to walk away. From anyone or anything that doesn’t respect you. Don’t let anyone convince you that you aren’t good enough for something — a job, a promotion, a relationship. Whatever. You are good enough. And if they don’t see it… then fuck ‘em!

Like I said, I tried being nice. I tried to be something that didn’t come naturally. I’m not a nice person. I’m thoughtful. I’m kind. I want others to be happy. But I went way too far and I tried to make others more important. Why? Because I got some terrible advice and I listened to it.

I was always rather independent, cocksure, unwilling to listen to others. I do things my way. This actually worked rather well, socially. But it didn’t work well, personally. At the end of the day, I might’ve found a woman in my bed, but I didn’t really care if she was there. I’ve had sex with enough women I actually have no idea how many. And before you think to yourself I’m a dirtbag or I’m humblebragging, I don’t bring it up because I want you to think — “Whoa! He’s pulled a lot of wool.” I say it because I want you to know it doesn’t work. If anything, it’s way worse than being in bed alone. It makes you feel a powerful loneliness. You got what you wanted and it fails to make you feel better. Soon you believe there’s no hope for you. And it lowers your opinion of potential mates because they keep sleeping with you even when you aren’t a good person. In a sense you get rewarded for being shitty, to save yourself, the decent part of you starts to rebel, and constantly reminds you of the hollowness you feel lying in bed with a stranger. Then your mind fixates on what it is you really want and still don’t have. Having gone months without sex, I’d say going without feels far better.

When I started feeling shitty about my life choices, I decided I’d ask around for advice. How could I become a good person? This is, of course, where I went wrong. I took someone else’s values and swapped them for mine, rather than redefine my values to meet my new view of myself. This laziness was my undoing. It’s why you must always consider the source of any advice you get before you adopt it. I was stupid. Later on, I realized what might’ve worked for them sure as shit didn’t work for me. I’m no good at being nice. Hell, I don’t even believe in niceness. I think it’s a lie. This is why you gotta do you. Nothing else will work but your truth.

But how do you “do you” when what you’re doing isn’t working? Another good question.

Unfortunately, most times you have to learn from trial-and-error.

My most recent trial-and-error involved a woman I fell for. Hard. The old unrequited kind of love. It was good at the beginning. Actually, it was great. She’s awesome. But then I tried to be nice to show her I was worthwhile and a “good person” and not like the way I’d been. Ironically, I’m rather certain the way I’d been would’ve worked far better. The trouble started when I began to imagine a life for us together. I wanted that life so desperately, I was willing to contort myself into all sorts of uncomfortable positions to get it. I thought I was just being considerate. She was troubled. She had a tough past. I understood her and wanted her to know I offered her unconditional love, and in a way she’d never received. The thing I didn’t know was you never get anything in this life by trying to be nice. And unconditional love doesn’t mean cutting off your nuts and tossing out all sense of boundaries. You still have to “do you.” You have to work for what you want, you have to fight for what you want and occasionally you have to be prepared to walk away from what you want. This last one was the hardest for me. I refused to walk away from her and in many ways it doomed any chances I had. Isn’t life hilarious sometimes, how everything is always upside-down and backwards?

The critical question I never asked was: How could she respect any man who let her treat him so badly?

She didn’t see my love as unconditional. She saw it as weakness. This was new to me. Normally, I would’ve walked away the second or third time she was shitty to me because I’m a proud person. Instead, I stuck it out, hoping to win her heart over time. I imagined myself like a seawall absorbing the battering waves, forgetting that the waves always win. I sacrificed my happiness, my values, myself. Sweet Jeebus! Just typing those sentences made me sick to my stomach. I quit myself in the hopes of becoming something new. That never works.

The key to getting what you want is to be true to you and to be fully prepared to walk away. This is what Eastern philosophies call non-attachment. I was really good at non-attachment when I woke up every morning and pulled a tube on a four-foot bong to start my day. I didn’t really care what happened. I was high. Obviously, this isn’t the ideal road to non-attachment. Then one day, I stopped pulling tubes every morning. This change didn’t suddenly make the whole world open up to me like a ready oyster. Instead, things got worse. Why?

Well, because of that aforementioned shitty advice I got and adopted. Someone told me my problems all stemmed from how I treated people. Based on the face of things, I had to agree. I wasn’t really particularly good at treating people with consideration and respect. I just kinda did whatever I wanted to do and I’d apologize if things went badly. When I decided to adopt this shitty advice, I did so without any understanding of how to be respectful and considerate of others, instead, I called it “being nice.”

Using all the logic God gave a five-year old I started acting basically just like a five year-old who hoped people would approve of me if I was a “good person,” or at least I’d stop having so many problems with others. To start off, I gave people the benefit of the doubt. If someone mistreated me, I assumed they were suffering and I’d let them mistreat me because I was strong enough to take it and they were weak. And hopefully, (you gotta love my arrogance) my example of selflessness would inspire them to act better. I bet you can guess how well that worked out. About as well as sliding on some bacon underwear and walking into a pack of hungry dogs.

With only a child’s sense of how to be kind and nice to others, since that was the last time I thought about such things, I was woefully unprepared to go naively out into the adult world of manipulation and social agendas. Ignoring my self-interest (because that wasn’t “nice”), I was lied to, coerced, pushed by guilt, pulled by lust, emotionally blackmailed, and generally prepared to sell myself down the river as long as I was “being nice.” Seriously. Fuck. All. That. Noise.

Don’t be nice! Being nice is a lie weak people tell the world in order to be liked.

To be “liked” is bullshit. It’s as stupid as that “thumbs up” icon on Facebook. It means nothing! “Being nice” doesn’t work because people are fickle and generally rely on a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sort of emotional thinking. Niceness has no lasting effect. Only respect does. If you want anything in this world you must demand it. Like power, most everything valuable in this world can’t be given or granted, it must be taken. And the way for someone to be cool with you taking what you want/need… they must respect you.

And the way they respect you is because you command respect. You treat yourself that way first, and they follow your lead. If someone doesn’t treat you well, either confront them about it or walk away. Don’t manipulate them, or play games, or try to trick them. And yes being “nice” is a trick. Just like with cheating for a school exam, the only person you’re tricking is yourself. Everyone else sees you as desperate for their approval and they will withhold it and use it to get what they want. Most importantly, they lose respect for you.

Life isn’t a box of chocolates. Life is a children’s game played by cheaters. And just as in children’s games people will do just about anything to win at life. In an ideal world, everyone should get along and have fun, but we don’t live there. Instead, we live in a world where everyone wants to win. That means they’ll steal, lie, collude and stab you in the back. Okay, not everyone, but most folks. Since you won’t know who is who until they show you who they are, you must always look out for yourself. And when someone shows you who they are, don’t look away, don’t ignore it, and don’t rationalize it away. Remember it. And soon as it becomes a pattern, cut your losses. You don’t need people like that in your life. When you’re prepared to walk away, nine times out of ten, others will respect you, and based on their own fears of losing, they might even chase after you.

This doesn’t mean you should take them back if they chase after you, but it reveals how life is a children’s game that no adult wants to lose. If you don’t feel like you’re winning, or more accurately, getting what you want, stop playing. Games should be fun. And if you’re not winning, you’re losing. No one likes a loser. You’ll do better in this life if you find a new game rather than hang in the same game with the hopes you might be able to convince others to let you win. Winners play to win, or rather, to get what they want. Losers are willing to let others get what they want, and hope their niceness is rewarded during the others’ victory. But no one has time for that shit. Who has time to go around stoking all the nice people? Besides, most of us believe “being nice” is its own reward. Which means nice people already got what they wanted.

The old saying, “Nice guys finish last,” is somewhat misunderstood.

The saying should be: “Nice guys let others finish first.”

Well… fuck that! Don’t be nice! Go for yours! Be unapologetically yourself. Again, don’t be a selfish prick or pain-in-the-ass princess. As long as you’re not hurting others, do you. And if others don’t like it, fuck ‘em. TC mark

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image – Freidwall