August 8, 2014

No More Mr. Nice Guy‏. ~ Vince G. Sparks

be nice or leave

I can remember numerous times in my life when I have been described as a nice guy.

I guess that is not a horrible description, but it just seems so bland. “He is so nice.” What does that mean exactly? Does it refer to a person who helps others, is he thoughtful and kind, or does it mean he doesn’t pick his nose and belch in public?

Nice is such a noncommittal word. It doesn’t bring forth any distinct images. It comes off sounding like you are describing a person who is just sufficient. It is someone who fits acceptably into society.

It is like being considered beige in a world of color.

Nice is a generic way to describe something. It is a politically correct word that indicates we’re not displeased with something or someone, but we have no true impression. It left a pleasant or nonthreatening feeling. The phrase “nice guys finish last,” does not mean that we have to be mean or cutthroat to get ahead. It means that we are beige, and no one noticed us on the way up the ladder of accomplishment. We simply blended into the background—nicely.

Isn’t it about time all the people who use nice in their vocabulary tried to be more succinct in their descriptions? How many times have we heard “I had a nice time.” Is that just someone’s way of saying they made it through the event without having to slit their wrists? Or does it mean they had a fantastic evening of scrumptious food, interesting conversation and laughter?

What about being told, “That was nicely done.” Are you hearing that you completed something without screwing it up? Or does it mean you really did a fantastic job and should be admired? It all gets lost in the translation of the word nice.

I’ve contemplated this subject because I have always been the nice person and it bothered me to be just a generic good guy. As I ruminated, I realized that I was responsible for making myself the beige Mr. Nice Guy.

I have spent most of my life trying to blend into the crowd.

As children, we haven’t yet developed the filters that can close off our individuality. We express ourselves with wild abandon and creativity. We expose the core of our true personalities.

As we grow and begin to socialize with others, we strive to fit in and be accepted by our peer group. School can be a tough proving-ground when we struggle to find acceptance.

I remember being teased in grade school for being a sissy or acting like a girl. Being in fourth or fifth grade, this was devastating to me. I suddenly didn’t seem to fit in with “the boys.” It upset me to be singled out. I suddenly seemed to stand out as being different and not accepted by my peers. To make matter worse, I was a very shy child, so I certainly wasn’t going to confront any bullies or question their opinion.

That is when I decided to become beige. I wanted to blend in and not be noticed.

In my mind, being noticed meant being held up for ridicule. I wanted to be a part of the scenery and not an actor on the stage. I became pretty good at blending in, and my shyness certainly helped. I was so shy that if I farted, everyone assumed it was the dog.

It is tough growing up feeling like we can never truly be ourselves. I felt that who I was didn’t fit in with the world. I was so busy trying to blend in, and just be part of the group, I lost who I really was.

When we reach puberty it becomes more difficult with sexuality added to the mix. I tried to bury the creative part of me—the puppeteer, the painter, and the writer—because maybe it would appear too flamboyant, too gay and attract attention. I wore my nice suit very well. For the most part, I blended, avoided or didn’t participate.

As an adult, I have realized that we don’t have to live a life of ordinary and nice. We can be proud and show our “True Colors” and explode across the sky like a “Firework.” Be ourselves and display our individuality. Follow what we are passionate about and not what we think is expected of us.

It is so invigorating to know that society is changing and that acceptance for being different is making some strides in the right direction.

I have learned through experience and personal training that all people want to be acknowledged for their presence on the planet. We want to have a positive impact on the people in our lives. It is important to tell someone that they are inspiring, talented, beautiful, funny, courageous, thoughtful, etc.

I have found that I am a kaleidoscope. There is no beige in that array of colors and patterns. I have let all the naysayers go, and I have discovered my creativity. I can express myself and be proud, and share my thoughts through my writing. I don’t have to accept just being nice.

We should all make a mark on the world and let people know we have something to say. The next time you go to describe someone or something and the word nice comes to mind—delete it. Use a vivid, descriptive word, and give that person or thing the credit they deserve. Remember, we are trying to eliminate beige in this world of vibrant color. Dispose of the ordinary and mundane.

There are a lot of people like me who thought they just needed to fit in and quietly make it through life. In actuality, they probably are dying inside to express themselves. Maybe they want to slip into their meat dress like Lady Gaga, paint a self-portrait like Andy Warhol, or write a play like William Shakespeare. Whatever they dream of doing, the product of their creative expression should never wind up in the category of nice.

I challenge everyone to examine if they are following their passion in life.

Whether it is strapping on your kinky boots and strutting down the runway, or picking up a guitar and learning to play a song. You owe it to yourself to break free of the ordinary, the humdrum, and the status quo. We all reach a point where it is now or never.

Mr. Nice Guy just won’t do anymore. Replace beige with brilliance, and see where it takes us.

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Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Flickr / Max Wolfe

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