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  • Kimberly Paige

When Being Good Is Bad

Good girls don't grow into good women. They grow into resentful ones. Why? Because at some point it just gets old to stifle yourself as completely as always being good requires.

Eventually, good girls (and the good boys out there) get angry.

I was raised to be a good girl--to be quiet, obedient, polite, respectful, self-effacing, and put others needs before my own. I was good at being good. And I stayed trapped in my goodness (even goody-two-shoe-ness) well into my 30s.

At some point my good-girl quota must have become full. Because seemingly out of nowhere I was sick and tired of being good. I was pissed that people took advantage of my niceness, expected me to always be cheerful ("where's your smile?"), and told me to be quiet if my voice was ever raised.

Suddenly it became clear that being good all the time was bullshit. It meant that I was living my life for other people, putting my own needs and dreams and drives aside, and for what?? So that people would like me? Bullshit.

Is it possible that being a good girl is holding you back? Maybe those aren't the words that you would use to describe yourself, but let me give you some examples of how good girls tend to show up in the world:

  • You are a people-pleaser.

  • You say yes to everyone and everything and are chronically over-extended.

  • You stifle your emotions especially your anger. (It is very possible that you have stifled your anger to the point you don't even recognize anger as an available emotional option.)

  • You take on more than your fair share of responsibility. Everyone knows they can count on you.

  • You prioritize everyone else's needs above your own.

  • You don't like to make waves and tend to keep your opinions to yourself.

  • You are over-involved in other people's lives.

  • You are a perfectionist.

  • You are over-eating, over-drinking (alcohol), and/or over-spending

Does this sound like you? Sure there are some good things about playing the good girl role, but it doesn't allow you to express the full breadth of your personality, identity, or potential.

Sometimes when we get sick of being so good, we really embrace our latent bad girl. I did this for a few years. I replaced my good girl persona with a radically new persona that allowed me to express myself boldly, hold other people to higher standards, and demand that my own needs be met. That was all good, but I took this too far, and frequently came across as rude and unkind. I lost a few friends, hurt some feelings, and pissed a whole lot of people off. I don't recommend this.

But letting my inner bad girl out was an essential stage in my personal development. Now I do my best to find the middle path by being neither passive or aggressive but consistently assertive.

Your process of coming into the fullness of who you are doesn't need to be as extreme as mine. There are less painful and dramatic ways of going about this, thank God.

Here are a few baby steps to begin to shift out of the good girl routine:

  • Don't say something is okay when it's not. Don't shrug off comments that hurt your feelings. You can just address them simply with a phrase like "Hey, that hurt. Did you mean it to come across like that?"

  • Don't make decisions based on everyone else's needs without considering your own. Try to avoid the automatic yes. Think about it and DECIDE whether or not you want to take on another responsibility.

  • Practice expressing your honest opinion, leaving work on time, letting others take care of themselves, and allowing yourself to be perfectly imperfect.

I know that it can be a little scary to let go of such a comfortable role. Everyone may like the good girl, but the truth is that no one really knows her. Allowing yourself to be a more expansive (less one-dimensional) version of yourself opens you up to deeper connections, more fulfillment, and true self-acceptance.

As another recovered good girl, Glennon Doyle puts it, "we can either be shiny and admired or real and loved." Be real. Be loved for who your really are, not the false version of yourself that is is so limiting.

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