By Tony J. Alicea: “You’re such a nice guy.”

That’s a phrase I’ve heard all my life. To this day, I’ve been labeled as the nice guy. You would think that would be a compliment. Unfortunately that label may have done more damage than good.

”Nice guys finish last.”

That phrase terrified me through high school. Many times I didn’t have the courage to ask out a pretty girl because I was secured firmly in the friend zone. Nice guys always get stuck in the friend zone. Because nice guys are safe.

The “nice” moniker can also be synonymous with boring. Nice guys aren’t exciting. That is a stigma that haunted me all through my first marriage.

When my ex-wife told me that she was no longer happy with our marriage, I didn’t know how to react. She was bored and unfulfilled. Since I embraced my label as a nice guy, I didn’t even really know how to fight for my marriage. Nice guys don’t fight.

My whole persona was wrapped around expectations that people placed on me because of the word “nice.”

Nice guys don’t get angry. Nice guys don’t get offended. Nice guys don’t disappoint you. Nice guys will put up with anything.

Peeling Off The Label

I got my second chance when I met my current wife. Not only did I get the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of my first marriage, but I also met a woman that wouldn’t allow me to accept the “nice” label.

She constantly assures me that she’s not afraid of the not-so-nice side of me. She’s not afraid of me getting upset. She’s not afraid of me disappointing her. She’s not afraid to fight if we need to.

Slowly but surely, I’m peeling off the “nice” label. People still call me nice, but now I know better. I know that I’m more than a label. Even when it’s said with good intentions. Even when it’s intended as a compliment.

I am not a nice person. I am a forgiven person. I am a loved person.

I don’t need a label to define me.