Wednesday, May 17, 2017


I'm a good person.

I have high moral standards.  I have empathy for the downtrodden.  I'm open to change.  I leave people to do, be or believe what they do, are or believe in, as long as it hurts no one; I allow that it's a big wide world, and the things I do or believe are not necessarily the only or the best things.  I can see the bigger picture, and understand that what I want or need are not always the top priorities, to be achieved at whatever cost to anyone else.

I'm loyal.  I'm hard-working.  I'm generous.      

I appreciate beauty.  I love art and music; I have a spiritual reverence for Nature.

I'm sensitive.  I genuinely care what others think of me.  (Maybe THAT is not a good thing.) 

But I am not nice.

Trust me, the two concepts--goodness and niceness--do not necessarily go hand in hand.  Don't we all know people who are incredibly nice, but, at heart, are greedy, selfish, lazy, vain...not good at all?

So doesn't it follow that there are also people who are at heart, quite good...but, for whatever reason, do not possess the gift, or the talent, of niceness?

I am one of those.

As a woman, all those other traits, all those good things that I am or do, are meaningless--or at the very least don't get the attention they deserve--because I am not nice. 

Women are supposed to be nice.

Sweet.  Loving.  Maternal.  Ever-smiling.  Ever-welcoming.

And let's just say I've never been accused of being any of those things.

In forty years in the workplace, this translated into never being able to quite achieve what I should have been able to achieve.  Strong women are bitches.  Strong women are mean.  Strong women need to temper their strength, hide it, maneuver it in ways that don't draw too much attention.  And if they use their strength of character to get ahead, they are manipulative and unattractively ambitious. 

Well, you know what?  Maybe I'm not so strong after all.  Because there's only so much you can do, only so hard you can battle, faced with constant negative reaction to your very existence, much less your demeanor or your management style.

But not only have I been hindered from getting ahead, I've been actively and aggressively sent backward.  For the repeated, grievous transgression of not being nice.  For not wrapping my "less desirable" personality traits in the cotton wool of sweetness and passivity that our still-paternalistic American society requires of a female.  As a woman, you better damned well be the most skilled or the smartest or the best educated if you want to get ahead without niceness.  And since I am none of those things...well, it is what it is.

I used to believe that I had not encountered much gender bias in my years in the workplace.  I used to believe that I had worked hard enough and been good enough to get a lot further than I had ever believed I could.  But that isn't enough, is it?  Looking back, I realize I was never encouraged to have big dreams of achievement, not even by my parents.  And though I did accomplish some things, they were little more than the small things I was allowed to shoot for. 

And always, always, any forward progress I made was a tough battle, hampered as I was by my lack of natural niceness and my inability to fake it.  There were folks along the way who recognized my goodness and my abilities.  But there were more who resented and disliked me.  And when management had to make tough decisions, I was always at the top of the "Expendable" list.  Every. Single. Time.

Which is why I finally took myself out of the workplace.

I believed that the only boss I could ever please would be myself.  I believed, left to my own devices, I could be successful despite the social handicap of not being nice.

Silly me.

We all know how that turned out with the restaurant.  In the end, I almost lost everything--including the one person who, I thought, would always be able to reach inside of me and connect to the good person I was.  And now, I'm running around the countryside with my little concession business, doing fairs and festivals and markets, and I find that still--STILL--being "nice" is what is going to get me ahead.  It's what is going to ensure my acceptance and my continued participation at venues where the competition is fierce and the management is...volunteer.

In fact, being "nice" might be even more important now that I'm a sexagenarian.  Everybody expects older women to be even more sweet, even more loving, even more ingratiating than women twenty or thirty years younger.  Oh. My. God.

I can't do it.  And if that is what is going to be required of me to be successful with even this tiny pebble of the planet that I call my own...

It's not gonna happen.     

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I hear you! I never cared much for mingling work life with private life. I didn't socialize. I was nice and polite, but I didn't sugar coat things or play dumb. I did my job to the best of my abilities, and helped others any way, any time I could. But I don't play office politics. And I am over fifty. No matter how rich one's level of experience in every area of accounting and office work that means nothing. Experience is no longer valued in this society.
    Faith: #TheWordonWords at Life & Faith in Caneyhead.