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Tuesday, October 29, 2013
When Being Kind Is Not Okay
I went to a high school that had signouts (think slam books meet yearbooks). In my signout, almost everyone who wrote in it commented on how nice I was. They encouraged me to never change, remain "sweet and kind". Kindness was my identifier. I happily claimed it and still do. So don't take my recent post encouraging everyone to be a 'selfish asshole' as a war on human decency. I think the best decision I make every day is to be kind. I'm about that 'love thy neighbor as thyself' life. It's just that... recently I've begun to realize that being nice all the time is one of my biggest flaws. I recently found myself in a situation where I had to say 'no' to someone. It doesn't matter who it was for, what it was, how I said it. Those are details. What's interesting is what happened later. I was depressed. I'm talking a loss of appetite, lack of motivation to do anything, fatigue, a general funky mood. It wasn't that I was sad I said 'no'. I'm confident that I did the right thing. It's the fact that I put myself in a position where I was not the 'nice one' that's bothering me so much. I, Juwon Ajayi, was not accommodating. The thought that saying 'no' meant there was a person out there that may not like me really upset me. That's just not okay. I love the saying "don't mistake my kindness for weakness". I've used it a lot in the past. But seeking the approval of others is weak. Bending backwards so people are pleased with you is weak. Inconveniencing yourself so that people are always happy with you is just stupid.
I'm writing these words and I'm still struggling to understand that it's okay for me to say no. I don't have to win "Miss Congeniality". I don't have to be liked by everyone. Why is it so important for people, especially women, to seek the approval of others? Were we just raised to be docile and amicable? It kills me that I am so invested in others' opinions of me. I wish that weren't the case. It is something I am actively going to work on.
If you willingly allow people to walk all over you, then tell yourself "it's the Christian thing to do", are you really living an admirable life?
I'm a Nigerian-American writer who has worked at Harper’s Bazaar, SELF, Popular Science, Essence, Complete Fashion and HELLO! magazine. A self-confessed pop culture addict who left the hustle of New York City behind for the hustle of Lagos. Contact me at email@example.com with your comments and questions about this blog specifically.