Justine Musk’s writing often strikes a chord for me. That was just what I needed to hear.
I was raised to be nice–it’s what they did to good Southern girls in the 50s and 60s. I don’t think I want to be nice anymore. Is it too late at age 60 to abandon nice? No.
No more nice when it comes to sex.
What do I mean by that? Well, I’m pretty outspoken and open about my desires. But there was a day when I sacrificed my needs by not speaking up. So I lay there. Played along. Tuned out.
Nice is overrated.
What’s the point in having sex that is one-sided? Why play nice when you can create a wonderful sexual experience by speaking your truth? Because what I think Musk means is that by playing nice we give up too much. She’s mostly talking to women (the context of article makes that apparent), but I suspect men play nice sometimes. One might assume that no more nice means I am also opening myself to a wider range of sexual expression!
No more being the Nice one when it comes to expressing myself and living an intentional life.
Being nice in my childhood meant being quieter and more compliant. Submissive if you will. Boys rule. Be the proper little girl–which meant not being too smart or too assertive. It’s easy to lose yourself in that situation, particularly if everyone around you is buying into that notion as well. And, what if there is no role model for strong and independent?
My grandmother, who died in her mid 60s was a wonderful, bright and vibrant woman. I spent a lot of time with her as a child; she was my role model. Brightly colored clothing, jet-setting around the world and engaged with a large circle of friends, she seemed ideal to me. She died when I was 12 and it felt for a few days that my world might just end. Somewhere along the way I forgot about her strength and vibrancy. I started being nice. You know—the good wife, the good mother, the nice one who played along, etc. Nice.
Maybe I’m ready to fully embrace this single life and let loose. Wear purple when I feel like it. Take off for destinations unknown and create adventures. Let go, live loudly. Say a big Fuck You to being Nice. Gasp, I said Fuck in an article. Twice.
Musk is really talking about finding one’s voice, as a brand, as a writer and in life as well. The true voice of who we are and what we want, down deep in our innermost parts. It takes some people years to figure out what they really want. Each phase of life brings its own challenges—what we want and need changes as we move through life. And maybe, just maybe, this is our strongest and best time to find that voice.
It is my time.
Baby steps. On my birthday I was dining alone at the fabulous Restaurant Martin in Santa Fe and spotted a man dressed from head to toe in purple. Longish silver curly hair and lots of silver jewelry. My first thought was of my mother, who forbade me to wear purple as a child. Purple was a tacky color and God forbid that we be mistaken for Tacky! During dinner I thought about this as I watched this guy…curious. I shared with a friend, via text. Yes I was texting, briefly, with a girlfriend while at dinner! She was sending birthday wishes. She urged me to speak to him, so I did. I got up and went to his table, politely interrupted, and asked him for a photo. He was a bit reluctant to give in to the crazy woman but his dinner partner jumped at the offer to take our photo so he agreed. They invited me to sit for a few minutes and we had a delightful conversation.
Last night sitting in the bar at my hotel I saw a lovely woman across the room in a deep violet-purple silk suit. It was very stylish and almost formal, there must have been a fancy occasion in the hotel. I sucked up my courage and went across the lobby to tell her how gorgeous her suit was. I think she was very touched, maybe more so because this younger white woman had gone out of her way to offer a random compliment? She blessed me and I felt it.
I was pretty pleased with myself. I was being nice—on my terms. I was responding to what brought me pleasure and doing something out of my normal routine. This is more about feeling comfortable in my own skin and reacting spontaneously. Because part of what growing up nice entails is always being aware and vigilant. Being on guard and a bit censored. Thinking more of others as opposed to my own emotional well-being. I can’t begin to count the number of times I felt tamped down and shoved in the box of conformity as a child and youth…as an adult and woman.
I talk about sex a lot now days. Totally comfortable with that. I’m thinking about sex a lot too….from a personal angle. Maybe I’m no longer content to do what I’ve always done? Maybe I want a little less proper and a little more bohemian in my life? I want experiences and things I don’t even know I want yet. Sometimes I fear that I’m too late…that my chance to get a little wild should ideally have happened in my late 40s. I wasn’t ready then. I wasn’t the person I am now.
It’s never too late. Each day is a whole world unto itself. There are an infinite number of possibilities. It’s just a matter of embracing them.
For me it will mean less NICE and more authentic sensuousness and freedom. More saying NO to things and pursuing opportunities to say yes. Play with more vivid crayons. Start drawing and painting. Continue to let go and open up.
What about you?