Sometimes a phrase sticks with you, like swallowing tar, it coats the inside of your throat.
Last week, I had one of these moments. Whilst watching a video on The Skin Deep (if you haven’t heard of it you should definitely get acquainted), a woman said “be kind but don’t be nice”. She went on to say that men are never told to be “nice” or described like women are in relation to that adjective. How many times have you heard “she’s a nice girl”? I’m betting a lot.
Kindness is, in my opinion, the most important thing in this world. Throw kindness around like confetti, be proud of being kind hearted and don’t let this harsh world taint it. Kindness counteracts cruelty, and it’s our biggest weapon in the current political climate. But niceness? That’s not going to get you anywhere.
Nice is passive. Nice is quiet. Nice is small. Nice is what society thinks women should be. Kind is strong. Kind is loud. Kind is big. Kindness takes guts, it takes work and it makes a difference. Kindness sinks ships, nice rocks the boat. And I’m not here to rock the boat, I’m here to fucking sink ships.
For many years I saw my kindness and softness as weak, I tried to ‘toughen up’ as I didn’t think it gained me respect or would help me be successful. Lately, however, I’ve realised that being kind takes a lot of strength and humility- we shouldn’t shy away from this. Little gestures of kindness make the world go around. Giving to charity, talking to the homeless and hearing their stories, helping the elderly with their bags, talking about mental health, protesting for those who are unable to- these are all acts of kindness, that take a bit of work but make an incredible difference. Being nice, on the other hand, doesn’t. Being nice is smiling in the background, looking pretty.
“Be kind but don’t be nice” is my new mantra, and it should be yours, too.