By Nkem Ndem
As children, we were made to believe that being “good” was the key to success in life. “Good” implied being polite, obedient, apologetic, as well as compliant. And it came with a lot of perks, praises, and treats too. We were conditioned to only feel pride in ourselves when we were good. In fact, we lived to hear our parents, teachers or older ones say things like “you are such a good girl” or “Clap for yourself, good boy!” to us; and like almost every thirsty puppy or trained pet, we perceived it to be the ultimate compliment. Even most saddening was the fact that our greatest struggle became the fi ght against giving into our inner rebel and breaking a rule. Getting in trouble was not accepted and usually would get us punished. One would imagine that the expectation to be good would wane, with the expiration of our formative years. We imagined our parents would ease their grip on us and there would be less judgment, but it stays strong well into our adult age. Th e need to be good is already ingrained so much in us, it is hard to liberate ourselves from it. Th ink about it, it’s 2017, but even with all the talk about feminism and “equal opportunity” women are still forcing themselves into stereotypical roles because they want to be the virtuous and good girlfriend or wife. We remain burdened with the need to be the good student, the good friend, the good boyfriend, the good wife, e.t.c. And really, being “good” would not be such a bad thing if the expectations were not aligned with heavy societal stereotypes that stifl e the reality of who we are. At the adult stage “good” no longer included doing the right thing at the right time or being the best version of yourself. It basically ends at conforming to certain norms and values even when they do not necessarily appeal to you. It becomes more or less, a label that places you in a sort of box. For instance, the expectation is that a good girl is one who dresses decently and carries a shawl to cover her ankles when she sits. She does not go out partying at the clubs; she is an active member of her church, respected at NASFAT, has a good job, cooks very well and remains a virgin until marriage. Also, she is passive, always smiling, and never rude, never argues and is humble. Likewise, a good husband is one who provides for the wife and family; he does not cheat on his wife…but if he must, will protect her from it (or at least deny it when caught). He gives his life to protect his family from danger and he must be able to change the bulbs in the house, sort our minor plumbing issues as well as fi x the tires of the car. Being good can be great, but here’s a thing: aside from the fact that it is never realistic, and never allows you to be your authentic self with good intentions, it aff ects the way you perceive ourselves and others and consequently it affects your relationships – especially romantic relationships. You are so focused on being good that you lack sense of self; and when you are not aware of your own needs and desires, your partner will be left confused and the relationship will not grow. You are so focused on painting a particular picture in the mind of your partner and making them perceive you as good that you naturally default to doing whatever your partner wants, which is not healthy. You become humble to the point of selfdeprecating, cautious to the point of timidity, and caretaking to the point of martyrdom. And the worst part is that it never pays off . Th e stress of trying to conform to another’s expectation drains you and saps you of so much energy and self-worth that you literally could pass for a doormat. Th en, there is that part where the partner or lover fi nds it hard to respect and value you to the point that he/she doesn’t get inspired enough to see a future with you. Let’s face it: good is predictable and boring. Th ere is a reason girls do not like “nice guys” and men who pretend they want good girls still cheat on them or dump them for the bad ones later on. Being “good” is not the most eff ective way to start a relationship or keep it. Banish the guilt-producing words “ought to” and “should” from your vocabulary; do what you want to do, not what you think someone else wants you to do; worry fi rst about people respecting you…the liking can come later. Go ahead and interrupt if that’s the only way to get an idea or response out there. Stop apologizing for being yourself, or even worse, for being smart. Recognize that there’s a time to be selfl ess as well as one to be selfi sh. Stop trying to be the “good” one! In doing so, you are sabotaging your chances at love and building relationships. Ndem is a dynamic freelance writer and editor who can be reached for online writing(web content and blog) and editing, screenwriting, ghost writing, copy proofreading and reviews.