Weak One

January 6, 2010 at 7:16 (Uncategorized)

This is my very first post and therefore my very first self-challenge of the year, so it has to be good. That being said, I’m betting the announcement will underwhelm you: This week, I chose to advocate for myself.

Let me tell you: This was not easy. The decision to go ahead and stick my neck out there — knowing I can barely dish it out and I most certainly cannot take it — was carefully thought out, unslept over and strategically planned.

I’m a writer for a living, and one common thread among writers is that we are thoughtful, observant over-thinkers. But I have thought myself into permanent inaction. And when I have coaxed myself into mustering the courage to stand up for myself in the past… I cannot describe the burn of the backdraft.

This particular incident was not about blindly standing up for myself. It wasn’t about taking all my past anger from being pushed around and vomiting it at one target. This was a situation in which I would have risked something by keeping information to myself, but I also risked something by offering it up. While I’d love to offer details, certain things are not meant to be risked.

Here is what I do want to say: People often tell me rather flippantly to love myself and believe in myself, and they leave me with that advice assuming that even though I have operated my entire life without the necessary self-confidence, simply latching onto their lame reminder will be enough to change things. The truth is that those of us who get taken advantage of time and again probably have a deep seated history of such behavior. It doesn’t come from us. It was inflicted upon us. So for all your casual counseling, we still have no idea how to just forge ahead and flip off the world with renewed sense of self. Sticking up for oneself is not a makeover show. It is not a one-time deal and then you’re all fixed. It is, like a weight-management plan, a commitment. And since commitment is at the heart of every New Year’s resolution, there is no bigger and badder way to jump start 2010.

The boring details for those who are looking for more than cliches: I decided to advocate for myself by planning out my conversation, various routes the discussion might go and my various responses to those routes; by presenting information tactfully; and by furnishing the necessary proof. I didn’t make it about anyone else but me and the person I was speaking to, and I tried to keep the conversation relevant to my exact point of dissension without permitting myself to be strong-armed into being led off-topic or kowtowing. Often, I back down trying to avoid conflict or scenarios which might make me cry. I’ll nod my head and say, “Oh, of course, of course. I see what you’re saying. Well, thank you so much for listening to me even though I was so completely out of line, here. I truly appreciate your time and I am so sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking” — when I was the one seeking and deserving an apology in the first place.

In this case, I did not receive an apology, nor did I receive a thank you for offering information that was correct and which may have saved this person from minor trouble in the future. I did apologize and maybe even backed down a bit toward the end, but the difference here is that I foresaw the argument the other person would make, and caught between risking nothing or risking it all, I elected to split the difference in deference and loyalty to my New Year’s resolution — and I effectively gained something for myself by risking something of myself.

I knew I likely wouldn’t win. I knew by not winning, I might actually lose quite a bit. But that’s what risks are. That is the lottery, the stock market, love and anything in life that is truly worth it. That’s my lesson. That was Week One of 52 Weeks of New.


1 Comment

  1. KW said,

    Oh man, I want to know more. The sign of a good writer.

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