My mother always told me I could do anything I wanted to. I remember my grandmother saying I was independent, and, according to her, when I was a wee toddler I would always say, “Self! Self!” Yes, I’m independent, and usually I can do anything I put my mind to – or at least recognize when it’s time to call someone and pay THEM to do it.
But being independent means I also know what I DON’T want to do. I often say to myself, “You can’t make me!” or, “That’s just not FAIR!” I love that John Mellencamp song that goes, “I fight authority, authority always wins.” I have a bumper sticker on my guitar case that says Question Authority. Oh, yeah! I’m always bucking the system. At least in my head.
I like to create these scenarios where I say what’s on my mind. But in reality, I usually just wimp out. When the system enrages me, I have a whole list of responses run through my brain. They all SOUND so powerful and smart, and I can envision myself saying them with such force and commitment. But what really comes out is a quiet, “Well, okay, I guess.” My can’t make me attitude DOES cause me to stand up for myself in most cases, but the more radical defenses are only in my head.
Like when my boss has taken advantage of my persistence and efficiency, piling on more and more work, and I work out all these points I will make in my come-to-Jesus chat with him. I even make a list so I won’t forget any of the points in the heat of the discussion. I imagine the conversation, accounting for every possible response on his part, and what I will say in return. I am ready! But when that conversation takes place, IF it even does take place, I might bring up just one of the items from my list, and present it in a very wimpy way, missing the point entirely. I find myself walking away feeling worse than I had before the chat.
Or when a co-worker has taken advantage of my work ethic and let me do all the work, yet takes credit for it. I work out that same sort of list, and really prepare for anything she might say. And then I chicken out and don’t even HAVE the conversation with her! I am SUCH a wimp!
Then I beat myself up again and again for not sticking up for myself. I am GREAT at making the lists and figuring out what’s wrong with a situation, and outlining what is FAIR. But I am TERRIBLE at confrontation, and ALWAYS wimp out. And I seem to always be around people who are NOT afraid of confrontation, and often find myself in that submissive mode, walking away after really going out on a limb saying, “Well, okay, I guess.”