Unchaining Nice

​I have this quote on my work wall. 

This quote has been very dear to me because I’ve been overcoming this my whole life.

The ideation of okay is that everything is good when there may be some things bothering you or you just want something better. I do not live in the ideation of okay. Why settle for okay when the opportunity to make things better is always PRESENT? 

Growing up we were queens or warriors. I chose Warrior. My twin chose Queen. (Another story)

I always speak up when often times a few believe I should “take several seats” or some have told me to “shut up” because I was being “disrespectful”. Or the famous line… “Everything was ‘okay’ until you opened your mouth…” It’s often a lonely place… going against the grain can be annoying for others but peace of mind for me. Some days I feel it’s a Maleficent curse.

You are who you are everywhere you go… no need to pretend to be comfortable  with being okay … or “being nice”… Being so nice that your no and yes is dependent on the comfort of others. Life is so much better dealing with the reality of the matter. 

This past week has been a true challenge. When dealing with “okay” or “nice way” to do something or situations. I sware I missed the memo, the mark and destination on how to do this right. I think I missed it every part of my life. 

First example, I remember in Kindergarten my teacher was teaching a lesson on Santa Claus and the holiday season. I was so upset that she was teaching a lie, when she asked me why I didn’t believe in Santa, I told her “there ain’t no Santa and that my gifts come from my parents. There is no Santa coming to the hood and I do not have a chimney.” So you can say I lead the class discussion on why Santa isn’t real  which made over half the class cry.  That day, I was sent to the office. 

Another example in middle school, I was sent to the Principal office because I hated my math teacher. We genuinely hated each another. What I didn’t appreciate was the Principal adding too much cream and sugar to the story. He literally created another story. So of course after some words back and forth… I called him a “bald face, possum-raccoon  liar with [his] alcoholic self …” 

See how… I just missed it…

So the Principal wanted to expel me, but my mom talked him out of it. My mom just said, “girl, you gotta learn how to respect authority.” My dad said, “Well, she is telling the truth. We don’t raise our children to lie.” See my dad is on my side… lol I know I shouldn’t have called the Principal out their name. Now that I’m older, I can see how I could of handle it differently. However, my reaction or response is often times the distraction instead of looking at the root of why I said what I said. I was not the only student having issues with the Math teacher. I was the only one standing up to her. She purposely did inappropriate things in the classroom along with disrespecting all students of color. Yes, my “how to” is a work in progress but the truth is in there.

I learned that truth does not always feel good or packaged nicely. That being nice is just being considerate without neglecting myself. But how did “being nice” translate to neglecting my needs, wants and expressions.

I believe that “Fine” and “okay” are ways to cover up true feelings. These words buffer situations… to not cause commotion, conflict or changes. It is to keep things the same. I usually say fine or okay when I’m not sure how to express my emotions. 

However what is sooo nerve wrecking is that this is still acceptable. That folks accept living uncomfortably in their fine or okay expressions. That I or we don’t have a right to express ourselves in fear of what others, may do or say or risk of losing. For example, Colin Kaepernick is not okay with injustices in this country but yet it has stirred a great conversation about race relations. 

I do not have control over people’s responses or reactions. So we must be held accountable to ourselves and be open to learn from one another even in our differences. Not to allow our expressions to be buried because of fear. But it takes vulnerability and trust to grow with each other.

I know I’m working on this. 

When I do not accept okay answers or decisions it has affected my personal and professional growth with people. It’s like be yourself and miss an opportunity to grow with people. Be uncomfortable with decisions and don’t create an environment with one another.

I’ve noticed in my professional growth that there are no avenues for me to express concerns, issues or challenges because the way I express (either verbal or non verbal) it’s perceive as an issue “with me” and “you need to resolve it”. I’ve tried face to face, emails, an advocate, grievances, in person meetings… all resulted in negative things happening to me at the work place, being fired, released, “just ignoring the person”, “don’t talk to that person” becoming my true introvert self  or I just quit. I know I am responsible for my own actions, however if I am not able to resolve anything in any form… it seems that the consequences fall on me because, I’m not okay with that because I want to grow… even in conflict. I was raised that way. This makes it difficult for me because I am often times stuck.

However, even in this admission to grow in conflict, it doesn’t matter the protocol, there is something that doesn’t work for me. I hit the wall of progress everytime.

I do not separate myself to do a job. I bring me everywhere I go. I don’t typically seperate my personal and professional self. My thoughts are, I walk in the door… here I am. I’ve been like this since my first volunteer opportunities from 2nd grade; my first job at 13 until now. I have come to believe that my professional growth has been very stagnant because of this belief. 

It’s interesting how a job wants you to give “everything” to a company… your gifts, talents, stay late, missing time with family, over time etc but … once a concern, issue or boundaries set it’s like a nuclear bomb set off. Every step is being watched like your going jeopardize everything you worked hard for (never). Often times, I’m left to be isolated and uncomfortable with decisions I am not able to express discomfort. 

Then the next question of concern, “Shanina, are you okay? You don’t seem like yourself.” Usually my introvert, one word answers come up and it’s precieve like I am Skeletor. 
Now the question, do I share or just “play this professional game” of not addressing what will never be addressed. 

I’ve decided 10 simple things to deal with this okay culture:

1. Be my best self because I can’t afford to lose myself for not one.

2. Produce great data and contributions 

3. #bekind

4. Accept that somethings is better to pray then to share.

5. Discernment: Not share whats on your heart.

6. Acknowledging that professionalism is not always culturally inclusive in expressions.

7. I am not perfect but BUT stay awesome sauce!

8. Live with no regrets, excuses or what ifs.

9. Remain confident

10. Embrace differences 

We are all different! Let’s challenge our okay ness and fine. Pray for wisdom to eXpress (verbal or non verbal), ears to hear, heart to receive and mind to grow! 

Let’s live our authentic self!




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