There are have been very few moments in my life where I stood up for myself. Its embarrassing to admit, but times where I have stood up for myself are far and few in between. I didn’t like disagreements, confrontations, and anything that required me to speak up, so I often try to avoid it.
In my years in elementary school, I somehow made friends with the confident, boisterous, fearless kids. I have no idea how these friendship came to be. Maybe they were drawn to me because I was so different than they were (quiet, shy), maybe my personality caused them to be curious, maybe they sensed that I needed them. Only thing I know for certain is that there was no way I initiated these friendships. It just wasn’t in me to do.
These friends didn’t hesitate to defend me. Back then, I thought they were just defending me because I was their friend. Now I wonder if maybe they knew in their own way, that I wasn’t going to defend myself. I wonder if these friendships worked because it was easy for me to hide behind them. These friendships didn’t last into new grades and new schools. I eventually found the people who would become my friends though. They were nothing like the friends from my early school days.
I was, not surprisingly, still passive. Saying “yes” when I mean “no”, and “no” when I mean “yes”. Sometimes the words are on the lip of my tongue, but they never left my mouth. Sometimes I wanted to tell someone off. . Sometimes I wanted to yell back at someone yelling at me. Sometimes I wanted to point out why I thought something was bad idea. Sometimes I want to not worrying about stepping on anyone’s toes as excuse for my silence. I wish it was just that easy for me.
Recently, I had a confrontation with someone at a coffee shop. I spoke up, and held my ground. It was one my proudest moments. While the experience was great, and the feeling afterward even better, it didn’t propel be suddenly start speaking up. One experience just wasn’t going to change a lifetime behavior over night.
I often still say “no” when I mean “yes”, and “yes” when I say “no”. I still struggle with saying what’s on the tip of my tongue, when I need to say it. However, I’m holding my own against those who try try challenge me, especially publicly. I’m slowly holding my own against the meanest and brashest. The more I do it, the more confident I become. The braver I feel. So its been slow going. But its going.