Growth, Perspectives

Politeness is Fakeness.

I went alone today to the clinic, in my favourite green dress. I let bus drivers go ahead of me before I cross the street, I hold doors for random strangers, I simultaneously make myself known but invisible all the same. I try to be polite to anyone I encounter, and as a very agreeable person, I have a hard time displeasing people, or disappointing them, I prefer to spare their feelings you could say.

I’m tanned now from the beach. I especially love when I get tanned because I become an almost golden brown — a sun-kissed glow. I love the tone of my skin right now, I want it to stay this way for as long as possible. My hair needs to be re-dyed, but I love it the same, the curls are coming back slowly which I’m happy about. Happy bouncy healthy curls. Overall I’d say I did look rather attractive today, with reason:

  1. Because it’s a beautiful day, and I love to wear something easy and flow-y when it’s hot.
  2. Because I wanted to see a certain someone today and hope they’d appreciate what I had on as well; they almost always do. And I could care less for anyone else that sees me that way, but I’m most content when they see it. Again, probably not a good thing. I should probably not dress for others and just dress for myself. Look good because I want to, and not because I want approval from someone else. It’s not even approval per say… wait a minute. Who am I even defending myself with right now? I’m constantly in a state of explaining myself. Fuck it! Who gives a shit? If I wanna look good that’s good enough, and if I also wanna look good in case I see my favourite, then so be it! No further explanation or defence needed.

The thing is, I can be naïve. And by naïve I mean the stupid oblivious kind. I wonder around the streets of the city, taking subway trains on my own, walking around doing nice things where I can, and fail to notice that people also see me. I’m not invisible. I’m very visible. Especially in my favourite jungle green dress, and golden skin on a beautiful summer day. It truly slips my mind that sometimes I’m being ogled at. Actually, I think I’m happier when I’m this way because I’m less nervous. When I know I’m being ogled at, it makes me extremely uncomfortable and vulnerable. I don’t feel safe, I want to rush out of places I’m at and just retreat to my car with locks. I got hit on by two different guys today at the station.

It’s not out of the ordinary. As a woman, you grow to learn that men will cat-call, hit on you, and ask you for your number for no reason other than the end resulting in sex. And sometimes, it’s flattering –nice even. Gives you that boost of confidence that someone else thinks you look good, or you look good in the eyes of society… I guess. I don’t take compliments well. I always get really awkward and shy. I try to steer away from them especially from strangers. There’s some things from strangers I believe are genuine. Such as their first impression of you. They have nothing to lose or gain by telling you the truth, they may never see you again. But when it comes to men giving compliments, and growing up knowing their ultimate agenda of said compliment, I just don’t know how to deal with it. If I get complimented from a friend let’s say –that’s different because I’ve established a relationship with them, and I full-well know that said guy or girl has no intention of trying to fuck me by giving me a compliment. And those are compliments I take less awkwardly.

I was reading my book on the subway train, trying to catch up to my bookclub friend so we could discuss about it. Not realizing someone was watching me read. He approached me at the platform as I got off the train. “Excuse me miss. You’re gorgeous” he says. I’m personally taken aback and immediately get really awkward and start to smile. “Thank you (lol)”. At this moment, I wished I could just take the compliment and leave, but it’s almost as if I owed him something for him giving me such a compliment. For using a word so ornate as “gorgeous”. The conversation seemed pretty straight forward but in my head it was more like:

“Hi I’m going to give you a compliment, if you accept it, you owe me.”

“Thank you, I politely accept, what would you like?”

It’s almost like customer service. I’m so used to giving people what they want, it’s become a habit. I don’t know how to not do that.

I wish he left it at the compliment but he continued with “Would it be too forward of me to ask you out for a drink sometime?”

Again, as awkward as I am, I start to laugh trying to walk to my next train away from him but seeing him follow me. “Uhhhh……. ummmm…. ermmmm…. I don’t know. I don’t think so” I said. It’s so cringeworthy that I can’t even just be direct with a random stranger! “I don’t live around this area” I continued to defend myself — trying not to disappoint the random stranger who ultimately wants to fuck me. And why? Who knows.

I lied and told him I live with my family in Hamilton, and made up some random story about how I work there and blah blah blah.

“Can I have your number? I could always come to Hamilton and we could have a drink there, it’s not that far. Or maybe even your Facebook or –” I interrupted him with “You can have my Instagram” –the most personal yet impersonal social media I have. “I don’t have Instagram” He said almost embarrassed. It’s easier for me to be rude and disappointing behind closed doors. Behind the Internet wall. I can ignore someone trying to reach out to me digitally, but when they’re in my face, they’re hard to get rid of.

If only I was just more direct and said I wasn’t interested I could have just gone about my day without that conversation at all. I don’t like pulling the “I have a boyfriend” card as a way of escape; sometimes it works, most times it backfires. And because I’ve just purposely dressed like a bum in public so that I don’t have to deal with people approaching me at all, I don’t have much practice being direct.

I have more practice being extremely polite and accommodating due to my work experience.

Who he spoke to today, was me – but not all of me. Just a side of me. A side that I use for any stranger. I am the perfect stranger. I’m “beautiful”, I come off as confident, I seem like I have a lot to offer to another person. In reality, I’m none of those things. Most of the “confident” vibes people seem to get from me stems from the fact that I just don’t care. I do what I want. If I wanna read a book on a subway with my feet up on the other seat across from me in a dress, I’ll do it. If I have stray hairs on my legs that I haven’t waxed – but still continue to wear a dress knowing people may well see those hairs? Don’t care. Never going to see them again, it’s hot outside and I just want to wear what keeps me cool. I don’t know if that’s confidence per say, but I can see how sometimes me “not caring” can come off as confident.

Beautiful: subjective. Everyone has their own definition, I’m beautiful to some, but not all. And beauty fades. I will not be beautiful forever. I will age, my skin will sag someday, my teeth will yellow, I’ll lose my hair. Eventually I will not be someone desirable. Me personally, I don’t know if I can ever muster up enough love for myself to say: “Yes I’m beautiful.” And I’ve had this conversation with myself and others before. Definitely something to work on.

Having something to offer: I can offer my love if I have it for them. I can offer help, companionship, friendship. But I don’t know if there’s much else there. For the most part I am not where I want to be. To a stranger who doesn’t know that, I could come off as someone established. Maybe it’s the way I walk? I don’t know. To others that have come to know that I don’t have much to offer, they’re usually disappointed that they didn’t get what they thought they got. Which kills me.

So am I a fake person then? Being nice all the time? Is that normal? I tried to actively see myself be polite today. I wondered if it was something that just comes to me naturally, or if it was a habit I developed over the years. I know that I was raised to be polite and kind, and I’ve always loved seeing people happy. And people usually remain happy when you’re accommodating and nice. It’s nice to bring that joy, a very genuine joy to their faces. I do enjoy that. Sometimes I’ll see someone’s tired face, weary of the same old shit they have to deal with, and sometimes I just want to be nice or polite to them, or even give them a hand to let them know that they’re not alone in doing so. And that there are nice people out there, and there are people who care. I’m one of them. We live in a world now where everyone is just thinking about themselves. Being someone in customer service you see it all the time. You see customers constantly demanding, consuming, complaining. It can be draining for the person serving them to experience that for an entire shift multiple times a day. And those people eventually become bitter from having to deal with said bullshit all the time. They start to believe that all people are just rude, inconsiderate and overly selfish. And for the most part it’s true. People are selfish. I’m guilty of being selfish too.

So I guess I answered my own question then, it does come from within me to be nice. I truly want to be nice. Because I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the coin. I just have to learn not to be so nice to everyone. Not everyone needs it, or deserves it for that matter.

I did not owe that man anything for giving me a compliment, and I could have just been more direct and maybe even politely declined his offer. There have been instances where I’ve mustered up the courage to do something like that. And I’m always so proud of myself when I do. But I haven’t been hit on by a random stranger in over a year almost. It just took me off guard.

I just hope that the times where I am faking politeness, I can recover from it and just be honest instead. More straight up, more direct. Because I want to make sure that I know that when I am being polite I mean it. Instead of constantly being confused of whether I am lying to myself or not. Baby steps.

Baby steps.

Photo: “A real woman” – By Polly Nor.


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