By Brianna Wiest
Nice girl guilt: the overwhelming need to make other people happy at any and every expense. The feeling society has instilled in you when you have disappointed someone in some way – even just in your own mind. We are not here to support Nice Girl Guilt, rather we are calling to light the driving force that keeps women with a huge “here to appease you” button on their foreheads.
1. If the stereotype that girls are catty is true, it’s because of Nice Girl Guilt. You can’t say what you want so you repress even the simplest of emotions. In fact, any expression of emotion that somebody else arbitrarily deems inappropriate gets you labelled as crazy or dramatic. So you learn to cope in far more insidious, unhealthy ways.
2. There are three key phrases you have to pepper throughout daily conversation, phrases used to justify, warn and apologize for any given statement, opinion or belief that isn’t instantly perceived as passive and kind. They are some variation of:
4. You are constantly finding ways to justify your alt lifestyle choices, because you need to do what you want AND you need to make sure your parents are okay with whatever variation of it you told them about.
5. If you don’t tell the truth, even about the smallest thing, you run to your nearest friend, in a panic, and confess. You are made to believe you must always be a clean slate, a pure and honest person.
6. Saying “I am sorry for bothering you” has become akin to “I love you.” You say this most frequently to people really just to convey: I want to speak with you/work with you/hangout with you, but as a woman, my place is to be passive, and so I apologize for being forward about my wanting you.
7. You hold yourself back from being your best self. You don’t want to shine too brightly, be too successful, be too beautiful, so you keep some part of yourself less-than-ideal, out of guilt of being anything other than “average” and acceptable to those who would get jealous and in turn act out against you.
8. At the holidays, you’re the one picking up the slack, helping more than the others, taking care of grandparents and being strong-armed into situations that are less-than-desirable. You are the woman. It is your duty to sacrifice your holiday joy to cook and care for others.
9. You have a deep-seated fear of simply saying how you feel as you feel it. God forbid you let anything out unfiltered through what other people want you to be in that moment… so you end up out of touch with yourself, simply through repression. You find that you often don’t know quite how you feel about something, take longer to make decisions, are afraid to be honest about how you feel when you do figure it out.
10. You’re responsible for ensuring that the little things happen: food gets ordered for the meeting, someone tips the door man during the holidays. It’s not so much that nobody else is considerate enough to take care of these things – just that you’re expected to.
11. Being in any mood other than consistently happy becomes A Big, Huge Thing. One hour of being crabby because you’re tired or disappointed in something turns into your parents asking 20 questions, your coworkers and friends asking if you’re “okay” about a thousand times, anything to try to change your mood. Nobody lets you feel, and so you don’t let yourself either. Nobody is comfortable with your emotions when they aren’t pleasant and placating… so you aren’t either.
12. Your version of a “success story” has to include a way in which you are helping others… you’re aiding them, serving them, making them laugh… it doesn’t matter how you spin it, simply being rich and successful on your own terms will get you labeled and judged.
13. You downplay yourself constantly. A compliment is responded to with a self-depreciating statement: you aren’t as great as that person thinks you are, because being beneath others is not only where you’re supposed to be, but where others are most comfortable having you.
14. You apologize for everything, even when you’re not even slightly at fault, simply out of the ingrained belief that no matter what, you are in someone else’s way.
15. You end up placating the terrible habits of those around you because you can’t speak up and tell them they’re out of line. You lose yourself in half-lies you make up to ensure you’re acceptable to anyone you talk to. You don’t know how to actually be selfless because you were never taught that you must first care for yourself to be of any real assistance to another (think of the oxygen mask on a plane analogy.) And more important than all of that, you end up making choices for a life that somebody else wants you to live. All because you are conditioned to believe that being “nice,” at any cost, is the best thing, the most worthwhile thing, and the only thing, you should be.
Brianna WiestBrianna Wiest is the author of I Am The Hero Of My Own Life, Salt Water, and 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think.
is a Tony-winning producer/writer/actor & CEO of TheDreamUnLocked: Boutique Coaching for Actors, Writers & Dreamers