Because I’m So Nice – A Little Bit About Me

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First off, welcome, and thank you for checking out my blog. Some of you may know me and some of you may not, so this is my getting to know you post. I’m sure you are probably wondering about the title of the blog, so I will start with that.

With the exception of my very early childhood years, in which I was a complete terror (just ask my sister), I have always been the nice, calm, quiet girl. All throughout school, activities, and even at home, I was “nice”. As I started college and my pre-professional dance career, I was “nice”. I was the quiet one who did what I was supposed to and didn’t make waves. Growing up and being from a small city in Wyoming, I believed that “nice” was always a good thing and would help me in interactions and opportunities for my career.

And it was helpful… until it wasn’t. The first time it became and issue was when being “nice” had become so much a part of who I was that it seeped into my movement quality… I was in rehearsal and was given the note, “It’s too nice. You look like a vision, and I need you to be a force”. So I tried it again, with all the force I could come up with, and the note after… “I couldn’t even watch you do that”. I felt like I had been punched in the gut (and probably would have preferred that to the disappointment I received). Senior year of college I was told I should have had a solo in the spring faculty concert, but another dancer got it because she was upset about the group piece she was cast in, and they knew I would understand. After the first season of my apprenticeship with a ballet company, I was told that I was easy to overlook because I was so quiet and nice. After my second season, I was told that there were parts that should have gone to me but, “other dancers campaigned for them, and the squeaky wheel gets the oil”. As my dance career continued on, it was filled with similar notes and reasons for rejection, “Stop being so polite and just move.” “You’re just so precious.” “Your movement is too pretty.” and even a flat out “It’s just too nice”. So I was faced with the question of how to stop being so nice.

I decided to start small, by speaking up for myself when I was offended or felt taken advantage of, hoping that starting with my voice would transfer to all aspects of my person. My first attempt was fairly unsuccessful. I was on the A train home after working a late shift when a man grabbed my leg… I told him to F-off, and his response? “You’re so sweet”… So I kept working on it… A fourteen-month stint cocktailing graveyard shift gave me plenty of opportunities to speak up for myself. More opportunities have come in the form of a well-to-do client inviting me to Vegas for a bachelor party and, after turning him down, screaming at me in our next session that the exercises I was giving him “weren’t the shit he came in there for”. On a more practical day-to-day level, I have learned how to speak up for my time and my value as a professional. It has been my experience that most people will let you work extra for nothing as long as you let it happen. I believe in showing value to an employer before asking for more, but have learned not to go too far for too long before having a discussion about the value you bring. I will say that even though I now feel more comfortable standing up and being me, I am still “nice”. I have relaxed about it now and learned to embrace what has been so engrained in me. I have adopted more of the “Do no harm, but take no shit” attitude. I speak up for myself, but always in a calm, respectful way. I was once told by a friend, that if you just tell people honestly exactly how you feel and where you are coming from that they will understand… They may not always like it, but they will understand. I am grateful every day for that bit of wisdom, because it has worked well for me. I can tell people how I feel, how a situation makes me feel, or where I am coming from… I say what I need to say, I say it in my nice way, and people understand. Do I still have moments when I wish I could channel my threeyear old fury? Yes… but overall, I like the fact that I am a nice, calm person. So now, in my fitness and teaching career, I am nice. I do my best to put clients at ease and make them feel comfortable. And when I ask them to do something that is going to be extra challenging, I lead it with a little joke of, “Because I’m so nice…” And that is how I continue to live and work.

Andrea Dusel-Foil