I’m Done Being “North Dakota Nice”

Yep, you read right. I’m done with “North Dakota nice.” My patience has worn too thin, I’m tired of avoiding conflict and I’m done saying sorry all the time.

Now before you get upset at me for hating on nice people, just hear me out. I don’t hate nice people. In fact, they are very pleasant and tend to not do bad things to you.

I grew up with “nice” people. I grew up being a “nice” person. But everyone has a breaking point. And you can only take smiles and “ya betcha” so long.
Being from western North Dakota, we never spoke of “North Dakota nice,” but it’s always been there. It wasn’t until I moved to Grand Forks that I started to understand the full extent of “North Dakota nice’s” super-nice, passive-aggressive neighbor, “Minnesota nice.”

The stereotype paints Minnesotans and North Dakotans as being overly polite, avoiding confrontation, an unwillingness to take credit, showing emotional restraint and being passive aggressive.

An outsider that encounters these traits is often left confused. For example, if you move in and meet the neighbors, they will greet you with big smiles, a “Nice to meet cha,” and maybe offer to have dinner. This is meant to be a friendly gesture, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they want to have dinner. In fact, they are expecting you to decline a couple of times, as they would do the same because they don’t want to intrude.

But that’s for another time.

It’s hard to explain why Midwesterners are so “nice.” Even when someone calls our home ugly, we do it in a passive-aggressive way by posting beautiful pictures and inviting that person to see it so we can rub how wrong he was in his face. Right, Christopher Ingraham?

I was raised to be “nice,” and I can’t seem to shake that habit. People tend to think I’m a kind person for that, and I try my best to help others, but being “nice” gets me into trouble.

I constantly apologize for everything, even when it’s not my fault, which can give off the personification that I’m not sincere. It’s not to everyone. If I apologize, it’s to someone I care about. Something may not be my fault, but I do it anyway to show I feel bad. And the only way to express that is with a seemingly insincere “sorry.”

I have a problem saying “no.” This is because I don’t want to hurt other’s feelings, but this one has made me commit to things I didn’t want to do, like awkward dates or taking on projects you later regret.

I feel like I shouldn’t argue with people. Actually, I argue a lot, but I think others are shocked, and sometimes offended, when I poke holes in their way of thinking. And they also don’t want conflict so they tend try to find a way to end the argument as soon as possible.

I bottle up my emotions. This isn’t healthy, I’ve come to realize. I don’t want to inconvenience anyone, so I don’t express what I’m feeling and I don’t deal with those feelings. And as a result of doing that for years, I have to try to find a way to keep myself from going crazy.

I’m not saying everyone has to stop being nice. In fact, I’m still going to treat people with respect and be courteous.

But I have come to realize that I also have to stand up for and take care of myself. As selfish as that sounds, I realize I need to do what is right by me.

So I’m going to (try) not apologizing for things that are not my fault. I’m not going to be passive aggressive and build up toxic relationships. And I’m going to acknowledge that I can’t make everyone happy. I think that will help me be happier.

No more Mrs. “North Dakota nice” girl.

3 Responses

  1. Neal

    What you described in your post is passive-aggressive behavior. Towards the end, you acknowledged an understanding of passive-aggressive tendencies. The next step is to develop assertive behavior so saying “no” doesn’t hurt feelings (yours or anyone else’s).

    Assertive strategies also end conflicts in constructive ways that resolve the underlying emotions rather than bottle them up.

    It’s also important to remember to be kind even if you have chosen to no longer be nice.

  2. Tom Bolonchuk

    Since when has ND been nice. From the first day our family moved to this state I(we) have faced abuse after abuse that continues to this day. I have rarely felt welcome in GF. The few times I’ve been to Fargo I’ve felt more welcome there most of the times except one big exception. This area needs a lesson in humility and fair treatment to everyone. My boss and others at a recent job I had, bad mouthed Canadians for being rude and stingy. Maybe they should look at wages for jobs in this city before they call anyone stingy. Maybe they should look at the amount of money Canadians bring into this city. I’ve never met so many phony, two faced people in my life.

  3. Mrs. Not Nice, I notice your name is not posted on this message. Hence I can give your statements no credence and choose to ignore them.

    As far as abuse, I AND my employers have suffered some real abuse. My sisters went so far as to say I was working for evil. The bosses had no idea where the trouble was coming from. I loved my job but I was the subject of abuse, hence it followed me everywhere. It took an investigation to prove my innocence. I refuse to buy into my sisters’ lies. My sisters didn’t honor their parents either, but that didn’t keep me from being Christian. Love may be blind but I refuse to be abused or to let family abuse others. Abuse is a shameful reflection on the abuser-not the target. The Jackson family never stood for abuse but their stature as one of the leading families in North Dakota has made it a target for jealousy. My oldest sister married a real abuser, starting a whole cycle of problems here. I walked away from them. I am not an abuser nor were my parents. They were genuinely nice people.

    My North Dakota Nice friends saved my life. Most folks here are really truly heartfelt North Dakota Nice. Nice people don’t cause trouble. They are part of the solution, not the problem. Better for you to do something more constructive and caring with your time. There are enough grumpy people clogging the internet freeway.

    I am a real person. I have a real name. Have a really nice day.

    June Jackson
    Fargo ND

Leave a Reply