A few weeks ago while at the mall with my friends, I ran into my old high school dance team captain. She and I would often butt heads and disagree on pretty much everything, and that was the way we left things up until we went off to college, and I hadn’t seen her since.
As we made eye contact walking past each other in the food court I could feel the uncomfortable tension, so I decided to make it easier on everyone and say, “Hi! I haven’t seen you in forever, how’s school?” We talked for a few minutes about classes and spring break plans, then we said goodbye and I went to find my friends in line at the Chinese place. To my surprise, my best friend said “Why were you being so fake to Alison*? I thought you guys hated each other.”
All I could think was, ‘Whoa, hold up.’ Since when does saying hello to someone you don’t particularly care for make you fake? Sure we had our differences in high school but we’ve grown up since then, right?
The more I thought about it, this happens to me frequently. I could see an ex in public and ask him how he’s doing and my brother will accuse me of being fake and pretending to be nice. Maybe he’s not my favorite person in the world, but why should I be mean to him? Why is it such a crime to be kind to everyone? Why is being respectful and civil seen so often as being snooty and stuck up?
Pretending to befriend someone in order to gain something from them, that’s being fake. Think Regina George from the ever popular movie Mean Girls. She is a perfect example of someone who is fake. When you smile and wave to your old best friend who once spread rumors about you, do you feel like Regina George? Probably not. Why? Because you’re simply being a decent person, not fake.
As I get older and start to prioritize my relationships, I realize how much time and energy it takes to be rude to people, even people who have wronged you in the past or people that you just straight up do not like. It never makes me feel bad inside to be kind to someone, but it always makes me feel like crap when I treat someone bad, even if they aren’t the greatest person in the world.
Being friendly and mature does not make you fake. The bottom line is no one should ever feel bad about being nice to someone, or fear that their friends will look down on them for being a good person.
“It’s not our job to play judge and jury, to determine who is worthy of our kindness and who is not. We just need to be kind, unconditionally and without ulterior motive, even – or rather, especially – when we’d prefer not to be.” –Josh Radnor
Image via Oguguam Ugwuanyi