Throwback Stop/Start: Ask & Ye Shall Receive

Before this idea for consciously replacing attitudes and actions in my life that weren’t making me happy with attitudes and actions that would help me live a more fulfilling life, there were a few things that I knew I needed to change. I had changed it before, but the change turned out not to be for the better. Sometimes, we have good intentions but we miss the mark altogether.

When I was younger, I learned how to “give people a piece of my mind” or tell them how I was feeling. At the time, I had no regard for how the person/people I was telling these things to might feel. I was tired of being walked on, and I needed to tell folks they weren’t going to run all over me or tell me what to do. I was a girl who knew her own mind. I also knew what you needed to do, too. Hard to believe, right?

After I became a Christian, I learned better than to always be so blunt and “flip at the mouth” (with occasional slips). This should have been a good thing. But somewhere along the way, I lost my voice. It was hard for me to tell anybody what I wanted. I struggled with finding a balance, with not being a doormat, but not being too blunt either. For the most part, I ended up being a doormat. I thought it was less of a character failing to be a little too amenable than to be too hard, especially for a woman. Add to that a desire to stay as far away from the Angry Black Woman Stereotype, and you have a perfect storm for a doormat.

The first thing that really tested my go along to get along attitude happened in late 2006. I was living with my aunt, working and establishing residency in Florida so I could finish my last year of college here. I didn’t have enough financial aid to finish where I’d started and schools were cheaper here. My aunt, who was extremely helpful to me at this time, had encouraged me to come to Florida for school in the first place, had given me a home and a job, had encouraged me to go back as soon as possible. She gave me a helping hand that I would always be grateful for; but she also drove me up the wall trying to get me to conform to what she wanted. I had to be up at a certain time, clean the room a certain way, get another job (in addition to working with her), etc. I did these things because I felt I owed it to her. She was helping me and she didn’t have to do it. But then she wanted me to change my major.

I never wanted to do anything but write my entire life. Instead of taking Creative Writing, I left fear of not being able to find a job push me to take English Literature. It turned out to be a good choice for me.  I loved every class and I learned what constituted “good literature”, what made it good. I was one year away from an English degree, a few classes in English and a couple pre-requisites…and she wanted me to change my major to psychology. Doing this would add another year (at least) to my college career. It also was not what I wanted to do. Instead of saying I didn’t want to change my major, I simply told her it was too late to change it without adding time (and money) to when I would be done, and I was already going to graduate a year late.

I didn’t really get an opportunity to learn to speak up for myself until this year. You may have read my post, Marry Me or Else on my other blog. This post was about a conversation I had with my boyfriend about where I wanted our relationship to go and the time frame it needed to get there in. I wasn’t interested in going on forever the way we were, and I knew if I didn’t say something, I couldn’t blame anyone else for not knowing how I felt.

Through the years, there have been little tests that have helped me realize that it’s easiest to tell the truth in love, to be swift to hear and slow to speak. I don’t have to be a doormat in order to avoid being an Angry Black Woman. God never calls us to be doormats; being meek and humble doesn’t mean you can’t ask for what you want out of life, can’t disagree with anyone. It’s not always what you say, but how you say it…and why you said it in the first place.

Most people who know me in real life will tell you I’m pretty meek. I have my own ideas about things, but if you don’t ask, I don’t usually volunteer to tell you how I feel about it. I don’t force my ideas down your throat, either. I have had angry friends tell me I’d make a perfect little docile wife because I would never complain; I would be a doormat. MensHealth can tell you that’s simply not true anymore. I am learning to express how I feel, but in such a way that I’m not demanding anyone else feel the same. I’m still open to ideas and compromise. I’m just learning to speak up for myself…the right way this time.

Stop: being a doormat

Start: speaking up for yourself

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