I grew up with the sayings “treat others the way you would like to be treated” and “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all” on repeat in my head like a summer hit on the radio. These are nice and important words to live by, and they have even helped me maneuver out of tense situations and make new friends.
However, with a few relationships of unrequited effort — and several other tasks to complete because I refuse to say no — I can’t help myself from thinking: Trying to be nice all of the time has really screwed me over.
This revelation came slowly, but eventually, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I needed to establish boundaries; I needed to be able to say no; I needed to be expressive about all of my emotions — including the bad ones. However, every time this question banged against the wall of my mind, I held my tongue. And once I finally established boundaries and welcomed brutal honesty, worry crept in.
What if my mentality was the only reason the people in my life stayed? And what if establishing boundaries and welcoming honesty cause the people I love most to turn away?
These aren’t easy questions, nor are they uncommon. Although this is undoubtedly not the reason why most people stay in one’s life, it’s easy to believe it, forcing a person to continue the facade of excess support and willingness far beyond their means.
Everyone is scared of doing what they truly want — especially the “bad” — or entering their “villain era,” as people may call it. But the truth is, as much as life requires us to be the hero, it also requires us to be the so-called “villain.”
Although describing it as “your villain era” is a bit much, it’s true. Being the “villain” allows us to establish boundaries, prevent others from pushing us too far and, most importantly, it gives us an outlet to express all of our emotions, regardless of whether they’re positive. When a person is nothing but sweet and happy, it makes it easy for people to overstep boundaries and ask for things they usually wouldn’t because they wouldn’t be denied.
Establishing yourself as not only a sweet person but someone who is not afraid to say what they think and stick up for themselves prevents all of that. It’s vital to be honest, a bit grouchy, sad or even angry because in the end, all of these are valid emotions that we should be allowed to express. Humans are multifaceted; the way we present ourselves in our daily lives and our relationships should be, too.
So embrace your villain era and all sides of yourself: Future you will be grateful.