What is a good girl?

Most ventures into the blogosphere begin with a manifesto of sorts. But good girls don’t write manifestos since it’s against our nature to be so assertive and direct. So instead I’ll reminisce about the day I registered this blog on July 2, 2010.

I have been reminded of the peculiarity of my “nice” disposition on a handful of occasions, all of which I remember vividly. When I was in college I had a crush on a friend’s friend. When my crush finally asked me out on a date I was thrilled. And now, so many years later, the only thing I can really remember is what my friend said to me: “When he asked me if he should ask you out I said, “Do it. She’s too polite to say no.” It was a backhanded yet eye-opening compliment. So this is what people thought of me?

Fast forward to last summer when not only was my politeness acknowledged aloud, but it was done so mockingly. Which I found enraging. When did having manners become absurd? True, I realize that in today’s brash world that delights in unpleasant behavior because it’s more “real” my way of being seems antiquated. But that’s the way I was raised. Not only do I come from a reserved culture, but my family is especially so. In my family you were taught to never rock the boat, but rather make sure that everyone on board has been looked after. And moreover, that they see you accomplishing this in an effortless way. Never complain, always smile.

I’m a good sport to a point. I’d like to think I can laugh at myself. But though my behavior may seem out of step with how most people act, I’m respectful of others and deserve respect. I’m not a joke. I’m just a good girl trying to navigate an often confusing and hostile world.

In a society that glamorizes bad behavior I wanted to present a perspective that many people may share. A high school friend’s mother asked us once what we all wanted to be when we grew up. Naturally, she received the requisite “doctor-lawyer” responses. I told her I wanted to be a good person. I believed that at 17 and still do today. Having a career is easy. Being good, to others and yourself, demands a lifetime of dedication and patience. It’s nothing to be snubbed but admired. And I hope such a simple message will make haters think again about taking easy shots at polite people.

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