I know you are out there. I see you all the time—the nice girl. You are the girl who always heard that sugar, spice, and everything nice was what little girls are made of as you grew up. So you internalized this, and now you sacrifice your own needs and wants for the sake of others. You are the girl who believes it’s better to cry to yourself than to let someone else feel sad.
For the girls who never send their order back, even if it was wrong. The ones who never mention it if someone cuts them off mid-sentence. The girls who make themselves smaller to fit into space without asking anyone to move. The girlfriends who ensure that their partners never do emotional labor because they can.
This is for you: It’s time to recognize niceness not as a positive trait but one that weighs you down.
I hope you know that even if you grew up as the nice girl, you’re allowed to grow further into a kind woman. I’m not suggesting that you throw away your manners, start spitting in public, or become callous. I am entirely encouraging you to stop sacrificing your own needs, worth, and attention for the sake of others. Niceness looks like making others comfortable, but kindness looks like showing up for yourself.
Dear nice girl, you have talent, worth, voice, and courage. Sometimes that talent will threaten others, your worth will be challenged, your voice might be shaky, but use your courage and do so anyway. Growing up, we forgot to tell you that being nice is good, but being honest is everything. Nice girl, ask yourself, Is it honest when you say it’s okay when really it’s not?
Is it honest when you hide your disappointment to make others more comfortable?
Are the words left unsaid really better, or are you just scared?
The world needs you to show up here. We need what you have: your thoughts, your talents, your heart, and your bravery. Nice girl, it’s great that you have such a fierce, strong heart, but it’s okay if you take a break for a moment. You must be tired of hauling that much emotional labor for so long. We need you here, rested, totally and completely, unabashedly yourself, and utterly honest. So let this message be one where you take rest, let yourself breathe, and grow stronger still.
I need you to know this won’t be easy and it certainly won’t be comfortable. Not at first, at least. You will need to learn to say no, to learn to let others be upset, to learn to stand up for yourself, and that’s hard work. Being honest is not for the faint of heart, but nice girl, you are anything but faint. You have already proven to yourself that you are tough. Nice girl, anyone who hurts themselves to save others is tough; in fact, we usually call those people heroes. You have the strong heart of a hero, and you have been saving everyone, but nice girl, now you must protect yourself.
On the other side of nice, there are fewer people in your corner. Some people might not take it well as you grow and leave your niceness behind. That’s okay—they are on their path, and sometimes you’ll find your way back to each other. On the other end, there are tense moments when you are faced with standing up for yourself. You might find that your knees feel wobbly, your heart beats faster, and you feel a bit nervous—that’s okay too, just breathe. On the other side of nice, you need to check in with yourself more. Ask yourself:
“What do I really think about this?”
“What am I experiencing right now?”
“How is this best communicated and what needs to be said?”
But the other side is also where you no longer need to do all the emotional labor. Where you get to rest your weary heart. It’s where you begin to see your value and what you bring to the table and you ask others to respect that. It’s where you trust that other people in your life are capable of handling your new boundaries. It’s where you are balancing what you give with what you receive. Welcome, reformed nice girl, you are now growing up and you are showing up. You see, nice girl, now when you say it’s okay, you’re honest. It might be hard to transition, but life is too short to always worry about making everyone comfortable. We let you down when we told you girls were made of everything nice. They are also made of wise things and tough, gritty things, like steel and diamond.