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.