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Don't Be Too Nice!

July 22, 2019

As the elevator doors closed I kept saying to myself, don’t be too nice, don’t be too nice, don’t be too nice. I saw the woman I needed to talk to. Instead of going straight there, I took a walk around the lobby. Don’t be too nice. Don’t be too nice. 

 

I stood in front of her desk. She looked up from her computer with a big smile on her face. 

 

“Can I help you?” 

 

Don’t be too nice, I said. Don’t be too nice. 

______________________

 

As many of you know, for the first time in my life I’ve been going to therapy. I went there to talk about this most recent recurrence, but since that first session I’ve only mentioned cancer a couple of times. Is that proof that I’m a complete and total nut job? Even with cancer recurring in my lungs I’m like, “No no no, the cancer is the LEAST of my concerns!"

 

After four or five sessions of non-stop ranting from me, I asked my therapist what he thought he was wrong. He told me I had Social Anxiety Disorder. 

 

“Google it,” he said.

 

“I mean, could you explain it to me-“

 

“Times up!” 

________________

 

I sat in my car and googled Social Anxiety Disorder. You know that feeling you get when you read a horoscope that nails exactly what you are feeling at that particular moment? 

 

That’s how I felt reading the Mayo Clinic’s definition S.A.D 

 

My next session he asked me if I had looked it up. I had, I told him, but how can I have social anxiety when I love people? 

 

“Loving people is fine,” he said in his thick Baltimore accent. “What you have is a fear of negative evaluation.” 

 

“People negatively evaluate me?” I asked in sheer panic. 

 

“You’re afraid that they will. And that fear is causing you to repress your emotions, primarily anger, therefore preventing you from living authentically in the world. This repression puts the body in a fight or flight response, releasing cortisol into the system, damaging your immune system, and therefore probably causing your cancer.” 

 

I’m kidding. He didn’t say that last part. 

 

He had nailed me. I do have a horrible fear of negative evaluation. Getting called into the principal’s office when I was a kid was the worst feeling of my life. A boss correcting what I’m doing makes me blind with rage. And the thought of people not liking me makes me want to sit in a dark corner, drink Stoli on the rocks, and listen to the Counting Crows all afternoon. 

 

August and Everything After, obviously.

 

____________

 

It’s easy enough to see where this whole thing started. I’m the oldest and the only boy and felt the need to be perfect my whole life. I’m a performer, desperate for the affection of others. Also being raised in the south, we place the utmost important on being nice and polite, so if someone doesn’t think I’m being nice and polite then not only is it bad for me, but I’m also putting a smear on my entire freaking family! 

 

And while my therapist didn’t say that thing about repressed emotion causing cancer, it is incredibly bad for the body. And I’m turning 41 in a week. It’s time to stop being so fucking nice. 

 

________________

 

Jaimie and I are on vacation. I’m writing this from Palm Coast, Florida. Yesterday when we got to the hotel, I was not impressed with the room they gave us. There was chipped paint. One of the cabinet doors didn’t close. Our “Oceanfront view” consisted mainly of parking lot. And something in the bedroom was making a click that not even our White Noise machine apps could make go away.  

 

So after about an hour of silent rage, I went downstairs to the concierge to do something about it. 

 

I walked to the elevator. My first instinct was to say, “So sorry to complain… Don’t mean to be a bother… Is there any possible way…” 

 

No! I did not have to be rude, but I was going to be firm. They knew what they did. They put us in that room because they thought I would be too chicken to complain. They could read the fear of negative evaluation all over my pretty little face. 

 

As the elevator doors closed I kept saying to myself, don’t be too nice, don’t be too nice, don’t be too nice. I saw the woman I needed to talk to. Instead of going straight there, I took a walk around the lobby. Don’t be too nice. Don’t be too nice. 

 

I stood in front of her desk. She looked up from her computer with a big smile on her face. 

 

“Can I help you?” 

 

Don’t be too nice, I said. Don’t be too nice. 

 

_____________

 

 

She was not at all surprised that I was complaining about that room. She clacked away on the key board for a moment. There was nothing available that evening, but she could get us in a new room first thing in the morning. 

 

That would be great, I said. 

 

No problem at all, she relied. 

 

I went back upstairs and told Jaimie. 

 

“Is what I did kind of hot,” I asked. “Am I like a bad boy now?”

“Yes David,” Jaimie said, not looking up from her phone. “That was totally hot.” 

 

We left the room and took a walk on the beach. A week from my 41 birthday. 

 

I felt slightly less nice. 

 

And a whole lot more like me. 

 

________________

 

If you like this post please share with your friends! Happy Monday!

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