I’ve realized something over the last… year, I guess. I’m not a nice guy anymore.
Depending on how long you’ve been following me that might not make much sense, but for most of my life I was the absolute, stereotypical, boy scout, “nice guy”. I was the first to forgive pretty much anything. Easy going? I was a pushover. Second chances? Hell, lets push it to fourth or fifth chances. I had friends, girlfriends and regular acquaintances that treated me like shit and I put up with it. Wasn’t forgiving them, being there for them when they needed it the important thing? I let the whole world lean on me, I took care of everyone else.
I’ve actually written about bits and pieces of this over the years as the nice guy act broke down. About how I was pushing off my issues by trying to help other people with theirs, but that’s only part of the problem. I think the larger part has to do with my appalling lack of self worth during those years.
You see, if you don’t put a whole lot of importance on yourself than it kind of makes sense that no one else does either. Or that they take advantage of it… leading to fourth and fifth chances. You put up with things you shouldn’t, just thankful to have people around. Maybe it’s what we think we deserve. Maybe they’re too good for us so we suck up the bits of pain and disappointment and chalk it up to balancing the scales.
Maybe a wife that cheats, knowing that her spouse will always be around. If people can get away with it, chances are they’ll try. In fact, I was such a nice guy that if Cat hadn’t pushed for the divorce -so she could marry someone else- I’d probably still be married to her, however unhappy I was.
But in the following years, as a single guy trying to figure out how to make it in the world, I’ve learned a lot of tough lessons. And the first was that Mr. Nice Guy had to go.
The world is not a nice place, it’s full of heart break and assholes, with so many people trying to take a slice of what you’ve got. Whatever you’ve got. Whether it’s cash, mobility, energy, love, sex, whatever, there’s someone who wants it. There’s someone who will do whatever it takes to get it. There are a lot of desperate, unhealthy people who, for whatever reason, think that what you’ve got can make them whole. People who, instead of trying to heal others to avoid their own issues, seek to use people to try and solve their own. Sex, money, drugs, love, whatever. And if they get their teeth into you they won’t let go until something better, flashier comes along. I could draw an analogy to Cat here but that would be something of an oversimplification.
And I’ve learned. It hasn’t been a clean or easy process but I’ve learned. Mr. Nice Guy flaked away, bit by bit, leaving behind… what? I’m not sure myself, but it’s a whole lot less forgiving.
Every person has their own intrinsic value and deserves to be appreciated. Even me.
I learned to value myself. My time, energy, love, talent, humor and (least of all) my money, have value. I might not be the smartest guy, the best writer or artist, or the most attractive, but I have value. I’m not going to waste myself on people who don’t appreciate me, I’ve spent far too much time with those that don’t already.
So, gone is Mr. Nice Guy, what’s left is far more Old Testament. There’s almost no forgiveness left. While the potential sins are far fewer than those in the bible, the punishment for breaking ‘my’ sins are just as severe. If the hand offends, chop it off. They are absolute. Respect, appreciation, equal effort, consideration, honesty, fidelity and consistency. I don’t care if you’re broke or a millionaire, an asshole or a saint, a republican or a democrat, illiterate or a PhD, if you can maintain those values we’re cool. If you can’t, fuck off.
Fuck fourth or fifth chances, most breaking the rules now won’t even get a second one. I’ve learned the hard way that most people don’t change, as much as we’d like them to they don’t. If they’ve sinned against me once then they’ll do it again, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow. I’ve given far too many people far too many chances, and how many of them changed? None of them. All I did was waste my time and delay the ultimately inevitable end. If the hand offends, chop it off. The sooner the better.
Me. I have value. My life, my time is valuable. It’s not always easy to say that but it’s true, it has to be. It has to be true for all of us, we all have value. Those that get my time and energy, that’s a gift. All of us, our time and energy is a gift. If that gift isn’t appreciated, if I’m not given the respect due to EVERY person on the planet… Well, I have better things to do.
Mr. Nice Guy is gone. If that’s who you’re looking for, I’d suggest going elsewhere.
And if you’re reading this, take a long look at your own life. Who are you gifting your time to? Do they appreciate it? If not…