Sunday, February 05, 2006

Being nice versus standing up for yourself

Once upon a time, we were all little babies, with little awareness of the world, except the small confines of our comfortable cots, along with that comforting pillow, or soft toy (more or less, depending on your tendency to stuff your face in them).

... And babies we were. We didn't mince our vocals whenever we needed something.

Food: cry.
Wet diapers/soiled them for the umpteenth time of the day: cry.
Felt burping: cry.
Felt hot: cry.
Felt like crying: ... (you get the idea.)

Basically, our lives revolved around demanding for our caregivers to satisfy our little demands (need I add that we did it without even letting them know specifically what's wrong?).

But as we grow up, our parents instill in us the need to be considerate for others in our thoughts and actions: so much so that over time, some of us develop such a knack for caring about others that we sometimes forget to look out for ourselves.

Don't be mistaken: the world is largely a selfish place, composed of entire industries committed to catering to the big "I"; yet there exist people who are almost permanent "agreeables" — people who don't seem to get angry no matter how hard you try to irritate or insult.

These people are the "nice" people.

Nice people are not necessarily without their own needs: They still have their own worries to conquer; their own needs to satisfy. Yet, through some choice of theirs, they decide to put other people's interests above theirs.

The reasons may vary wildly: Some might feel that they are undeserving of fulfilling their own interests; others might be extremely eager to please others (and in so, sacrifice their own personal character). But one trait identifies them all: they are nice, perhaps all too nice.

I consider myself to be a nice person: for some reason, I tend to put people's worries above mine; and probably for this reason, I am a perpetual "Yes" man, changing my conversations with different people as I meet them.

I have my own opinions: but I don't really voice them out once I realise that the other party holds the exact opposite opinion: whether that is an expression for the loathe of conflict, or simply just a matter of the lack of confidence in my opinion, I have yet to find out. But being too nice is already costing me a lot in terms of my mental health.

I am tired of people tramping on top of me; making decisions in mutual projects without discussion. While I am agreeable to most proposals, even if it runs contrary to my original thread of thought, that doesn't mean that anybody should run over my top and make decisions without consulting me.

To put it nicely (yes, "nice" again), it isn't really respectful to me as an individual.

I have not brought the matter to my project mates' attentions yet, but I really hope that this blog post hits them before I actually get around to doing so; for in my "niceity", I find it really tough to put this across to them without hurting their feelings.

Yet this cannot be put off for much too longer: each time the matter is aggrieved, the discomfort builds up; and nothing can stand being built up for long. The pent up pressure can only accumulate, and when the container fails:... we all know what happens.

That has already happened to me and my platoon mates on our first trip to Taiwan. As they can testify, I did something really outside my normal behaviour; and in doing so, shocked some people who really thought that I could actually "keep it all in".

On the bright side, I came across a book written specially for "nice" people. The author wrote about how nice people put off communicating with others their feelings, and in so, are accomplices in perpetuating actions that irritate themselves. Meanwhile, the aggressor goes along, merrily blessed in his ignorance to continue his actions: until the aggrieved explodes, in a gory-filled confrontation.

Looks like I have got some conversations to hold.


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