A few years ago, if we were out together and I noticed that you had something stuck in your teeth, that little speck would spark a huge dilemma for me. I’d stare at it while considering the discomfort it would cause both of us if I told you, yet also imagine your horror at discovering it after a full day of flashing what you thought was a perfect smile.

Despite this awareness, I’d likely avoid our discomfort and let that little speck remain ― I’d choose the “nice” option.

This scenario exemplifies what I’ve learned about the difference between being nice and being kind. I’ve spent the majority of my life being nice — a people pleaser — avoiding confrontation and the discomfort I’d feel from making those around me uncomfortable.

My moment of greatest shame around this was over a decade ago when I essentially broke up with a boyfriend of two years over text because I couldn’t handle having an uncomfortable conversation with him, not that day or any day of our relationship, which would have been the kind thing to do.

I even convinced myself that this was the nice option, allowing him to receive the bad news privately without me there to witness his reaction. But in truth, I was hiding from his discomfort, and thus my own.

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