Tuesday, December 4: Today I encountered two challenges to my becoming-a-nicer-Nancy mission. The first is solitude. I work largely from home, and some days my only interactions (other than with my husband B) are virtual. It’s hard to be nice to other people when you don’t see anyone for eight-hour stretches. This morning I wondered how I would meet my daily-nice-act goal since I would be alone for the first six hours of my day. It should have been a relief that I was going to see plenty of other people at noon. Instead, my midday mixer presented challenge number two: I was going to be in the company of people I don’t like.
I had accepted an invitation to a pre-holiday luncheon hosted by my previous employer . The same firm that eliminated my position before Christmas two years ago because my “role did not align with the organization’s strategic goals”. I harbor plenty of resentment toward those ho-hos, but I’m also a barely employed writer. Networking and staying afloat means learning to play nice with everyone, even with former supervisors who rarely rewarded my work and colleagues who tried to take credit for my work.
It felt mercenary to show up for the free noshes and possibility of freelance or referrals, but that would be the case only if I acted jerky toward them just because some of them had been jerky to me. I shared crudites and chit-chat with those former colleagues and survived. It wasn’t the best time I’ve ever had, but nowhere near the worst. It did highlight that I am often my own greatest challenge to being nicer to others. Clinging to and gnawing on old grudges like a dog with a rawhide just makes me guarded, peevish, and petty, possibly even toothless and slobbery.
I was reminded of the fears I wrote about on December 1, the ones that got me started on this gotta-be-nicer-before-Christmas mission. I believe we reap what we sow, and while it seems easier to give in to my cranky, nasty, annoying nature, it leads toward a hard life of loneliness. What do I gain by denying others patience and generosity? I’d rather realize this while I’m in my pliable 40s, even if it’s munching on carrot sticks in a corporate conference room. Visitations from the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future when I’m crusty and grouchy just don’t appeal to this boricua.