Thursday, August 1, 2013

It's Alright Not to Be Nice to Creepy Strangers

Act 213:  Redefine what it means to be "the nice girl".

As a woman and as an Asian, it appears that through the years, my self-imposed pressure to act "ladylike" has blown to epic proportions.  Beyond the average all-American expectation for girls to play nice, and to be gentle, my mama also taught me to be painfully modest (sometimes to the point of self-deprecating), compliant, and dreadfully obligated to make sure everyone around me feels welcomed and accepted at all times. 

Hence, that time in my early 20's when the creepy male hair stylist asked me all kinds of personal questions about where I lived, where I liked to hang out for fun, if I dated white guys.......and I told him everything.  It's a miracle that he didn't show up at my door that night yielding a machete.

Or all those times complete strangers would walk up to me at malls, or parking lots, or the dairy aisle at the Winn-Dixie and ask, What's your name?  And for the love of God, I tell them.  I don't even make something cool up like Madeline or Tabitha.  I straight up tell them my real name.  

And those uncomfortable moments that I found myself stuck in an elevator with a cringe-worthy dude who decides to make casual conversation (rather than awkwardly stare at the floors light up like the rest of the world) and asks what I do for a living, what meeting I'm going to, if I work out here much..................and I TELL HIM EVERYTHING.

What on earth has been programmed into this little head of mine that has made me divulge personal information about myself to complete strangers, in an effort to spare someone's feelings and not come across as rude?  I hope you're happy mom, my propensity to be nice may or may not be just enough for the guy who waxes my eyebrows to apply for a credit card in my name.

Is it even possible for women to demand personal boundaries, and not come across as a total witch?  Why do we even care how we come across to people we will most likely never see again?  Well, because we're supposed to be nice....and we've been taught to answer questions - even if our gut is telling us not to, even if we cringe when we do it - it would be so, very rude for us not to. 

So here's a challenge for myself and for all you other "nice" girls out there.  Let's not put a stranger's comfort levels ahead of our own.  If it doesn't feel right to divulge personal information or to engage in a conversation with a total stranger, let's not.  Let's politely say, "I appreciate your questions, but I really don't feel like talking."  That's still pretty nice, right?  That's doable....maybe just a tad awkward and uncomfortable, but sure as heck beats what we're really thinking:  You freakshow. It's none of your damn business whether or not I have a boyfriend.  I'll be getting off on the third floor.  Oh, and have a nice day! 

After all, mom did teach me some manners.

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