I don’t think I’m a very nice person. Really, I don’t. If you’re reading this thinking, “Oh, but I know you and you did/said this one nice thing this one time!” or “But I’ve been reading your blog and you seem like a nice girl!” I thank you for that, but I would like to think that I know myself better than you do and, really, I don’t think I’m very nice.
Here’s the thing that a lot of people don’t realize until they get to know me better: I am constantly angry. It goes hand-in-hand with my anxiety, which is actually about a million times better than it used to be. But although my angry thoughts are generally not as intense as they used to be, anger is one thing I can’t seem to shake. If I’m mad at someone, I don’t just think, “I’m mad at you.” Instead, I jump to all kinds of hateful thoughts that I don’t really mean, but feel like I mean as I’m in my anger.
I have written here before about how a Brandi Carlile song applies to my life. Well, here goes a post about another one, “My Song.” Specifically, the last lines:
Here I am
I’m so young
I know I’ve been bitter, I’ve been jaded, I’m alone
I bite my tongue
Don’t you know my mind is full of razors
I’m not sure I can take it
I’ve nothing strong to hold to
I’m way too old to hate you
My mind is full of razors
To cut you like a word if only sung
But this is my song
I love this song because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt those words. I do feel like my mind is full of razors. Good example– remember this post? I stand by that post completely because I was actually pretty calm when I wrote it–I purposely waited until I had calmed down to write it because the actual thought I have when someone’s cigarette smoke blows into my face is a lot worse than wanting to push a button to wipe smokers off the face of the earth.
I don’t like being this way, and I am constantly struggling against it, trying to be nice when being nice does not come naturally to me. Despite this, I do believe that most people really are nice. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books, and I love what Atticus tells Scout at the end of it: “Most people are [nice], Scout, when you finally see them.”
The problem is, though, that being nice isn’t “cool” in our culture. People always tout their sarcasm as if it’s a positive trait when a lot of times they use it to make fun of people. So much of the humor we see on TV is mean-spirited and at other people’s expense. Women will label themselves “bitches” as a reclaiming thing, but rather than use the word to mean “strong, opinionated, outspoken woman,” they embrace the worst connotations of the word “bitch”–the unapologetically catty, mean parts.
We condemn bullying in schools and cyberbullying among teenagers when we perpetuate it ourselves online. Jill wrote an excellent post recently about how the fashion blogging community can seem like high school. Nicole recently saw firsthand how uncharitably people react to news stories they really know nothing about. In college, I interned for a parenting author who, among other things, ran a message board for moms, and I saw how even women who should be setting good examples for their children could turn on each other and be petty and mean-spirited.
And this week, I saw it at 20sb–a very cliquey group of people ganging up on others who have done nothing to hurt them. Specifically, one blogger I admire a lot was very hurt by what went down.
And this really saddens me. I’ve written a lot about how in the past year I’ve connected with many great, talented bloggers, and the behavior I just described is not what I want that community to be. I’ve discovered a lot of kind, positive things that have come out of the 20sb community, like More Love Letters and Let’s Drop a Love Bomb, not to mention the friendships and connections that have developed.
Yes, we all need to vent sometimes. Yes, a little snark can be fun sometimes as long as it isn’t hurting anyone (Childhood Trauma and Television Without Pity are two good examples of this). Yes, you are allowed to rant about how you hate [insert overexposed celebrity here]. But saying mean things about people who haven’t done anything to you and who you know may very well be reading what you write…no. Just no.
It can be hard to resist cultural norms that say it’s okay to insult people and, in my case, to resist cutting with the razors in your mind. Not to be cheesy with a life-is-a-song metaphor or anything but to bring this post full circle, this is YOUR song. You decide how it goes, and it’s always better to do your own thing and go on singing no matter who it is who bothers you. Although I struggle with this, I try not to let those who bother me get the best of me. It’s my song, and my life.