Growing Into Nice

When I was younger I prided myself on being nice.

Nice to my friends, classmates, teachers, family (except my younger cousin I always tortured-still sorry about that Allison)-nice to anyone I could be because I believed that love and kindness could truly make a difference.

I cannot remember exactly when my position on being kind changed but I do remember a time when I felt ashamed to be known....only as nice.

In sixth grade we learned about an elementary teacher who taught a somewhat rambunctious boy who liked to talk a lot during class. Although he was trouble at times he was lovable. The teacher switched grades she was teaching and ended up having the boy again in junior high school. One day after a particularly hard lesson and the kids were feeling down the teacher started a project. She wrote every kids name down on an individual paper and everyone in the class wrote one nice thing about the classmate on it. The children were amazed and surprised what the other kids noticed and thought about them.

The project lifted the morale of the students as it intended to do.

Years went by and the teacher heard about her former rambunctious student passing away in the Vietnam war. She went to the funeral and the parents asked to speak with her. The parents showed the teacher a well worn, old piece of paper. When they unfolded it, she saw that was the paper from the project that everyone wrote something nice about him. The parents went on to tell her he cherished it and had it in his wallet when he died. Other students spoke up at the funeral spoke up and told her that they still had theirs as well. She was shocked at what an impression the project made on her students that day and amazed that they carried that moment with them through life.

My teacher told us that story and then handed out papers with our names on it right before lunch. We took tape and hung our sheet  up somewhere  around the classroom.  We went  from paper to paper writing the greatest characteristics of our classmates on those sheets.
Timed perfectly after we were done we went to lunch. When we came back the papers were gone.

Our teacher gave them back to us at the end of the day.

On the bus everyone tore into theirs reading what others wrote silently at first. Then murmuring.

I still hadn't opened mine yet. I wanted to wait til I got home. I thought of all the nice things I wrote about my classmates.

How kind they were to a kindergartner.
How they rocked at dodgeball and always had good pointers for others.
How awesome their artwork was.

They were all chattering excited and I was content to listen because I was not much of a talker.

I was staring out my window watching the scenery pass by when two girls started talking about how they wrote nice on a persons sheet when they didn't know what to say.
My stop came up and I hustled to my front door. I shed my coat and gently retrieved the paper from my book bag.

When unfolded it. I saw twenty something variations of "nice" written.

Very nice.
Nice to others.
Nice person.

Not one unique thing.

I was nice which is the social equivalent of unknown.

After staring at the paper searching for something other than nice on the sheet I folded it up and began my homework.

Every few minutes though, I would reach over, unfold the letter and stare again. Trying to distinguish everyones hand writing.

Not quite sure why it mattered since everyone wrote 'nice'.

But I wanted to connect everyone to which 'nice' I was and I tried to remember what I wrote about them.

Wondering if my thoughtful comments were a little overzealous given the feedback I got my sheet.

I forced myself to get back to my homework and finished up leaving that paper out.
My mom came home from work and I helped her with dinner. My demeanor must have signaled to my mother that something was up. She kept putting the back of her hand against my forehead questioning how I felt, really.

I was torn up inside because I was only known as nice. If I could go back and hug my younger self then and tell me that it was amazing that that is what I was known as then.

Beauty fades. Wit, although I appreciate it, is not everything. Every day we live is a day closer to our deaths. The positions we value in life because they seem glamorous or important mean nothing unless they bring us happiness or fulfillment.

Being kind. Bringing love to others. Caring and trying to make a difference in the world. Those are the most important things to me. It took me a moment to reposition my views and reevaluate the world to find what truly mattered to me...that I matter because I am nice. That being nice is not a void, it is not a demerit, it is not detriment to who I am. It is a statement of my heart and who I truly am.

If I am a millionaire, great. If I become a model, splendid. If I become published, freaking awesome.

But, if I am only ever known as nice then I know I have lived my life right.

This has been a Sunday Confession with the one, the only, the magnificent More Than Cheese And Beer on the prompt "position". Please stop by the creator of the awesome prompts and the one who keeps Sunday Confessions going on her website or visit her Facebook page where you can see confessions that brave souls admit.
Happy Sunday to you.


  1. I remember those kinds of projects. Our guidance counselor specifically told use we couldn't use the word "nice" because it was a cop out. There are a lot of synonyms for nice, though. But in hindsight, it's not the worst things someone could say about you!

    1. I agree...nice is okay but its so generalized. Something specific makes the world of difference!


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