Growing up, I was raised to be the nice girl, a rule follower, a goody-goody (SO not ashamed of that), a lady.
My parents had very high expectations of me, and I’m really grateful for that because I turned out to be a really awesome adult.
Unfortunately though, due to the combination of my parents’ high expectations, my perfectionist tendencies, and my strong desire to please other people, I shied away from confrontation and any form of sticking up for myself when it mattered. I was the person who always thought of a comeback or a snarky remark about ten minutes after the other person walked away from me. I was the person who let others walk all over me. I let them say whatever they wanted, and do whatever they wanted, even if I didn’t really think it was nice, or good, or if it worked for me. I was a follower, most of the time. These traits lasted well into my adult years.
Yesterday I was in the grocery store (where many an epiphany has come to me, for some reason), and I don’t know why but I found myself thinking about one of the most embarrassing exchanges I’ve ever had, and at that moment, I realized just how far I’ve come.
It was about fifteen years ago, and I was still in my twenties. I was working at the nursery in the small health club (my first position at the one I just got let go from last year). A photographer was brought in to take portraits of all of the employees so that each department would have a nifty frame on the wall containing these pictures, in order for the members to get to know us better. We in the nursery had, at the time, uniforms that consisted of these AWFUL baseball-style button-down jerseys that were so very ugly, but that’s another story. Anyway, the photographer was in the conference room and called on each of us individually. When it was my turn, I went to stand on the mark, and this is what he said to me:
“Wait, I’ve got to have you change your pose because you’re a heavier girl.”
And I said NOTHING. I smiled for the picture, and then walked out, probably saying “Byeeee!” as if he were a long-time friend who I had just spent the day with. And then I went home and cried, both at the insult and the fact that I didn’t say something to him about his insensitivity. And then, when the photos came back and my boss put them in the frame and put the frame up on the wall in the nursery, I got to stare daily at a picture that I hated as well as have a constant reminder of what I pushover I was.
One could argue that he didn’t do anything wrong: I was overweight. (I’m still overweight, but waaaaay more fit nowadays) He spoke the truth. But, number one, you never, EVER have to tell an overweight person that they are such. Believe me, we know. Number two, in the interest of being a professional, all he had to say OUT LOUD was “Wait, I’ve got to have you change your pose.” AND STOP THERE. I never would have known what he was thinking. Number three, in the interest of being a human being, he just plain shouldn’t have gone there.
I thought about that yesterday as I was pushing my cart down the aisles of the grocery store and knew without a doubt that I would have handled that situation very differently if it happened today. I don’t know if I changed magically around the time I turned 40 or if it was a gradual metamorphosis, but I stand up for myself now. If I don’t like something, I (tactfully) say it. If someone does something that bothers me, I usually let them know about it. The way I see it is, of course my friends and family have my back, but if I’m not going to stick up for myself, I’m cheating myself out of some hard-earned independence. When I feel like I’ve been wronged, I take it upon myself to make it right. And usually? It works out very well.
I have had a couple of confrontations in the last eighteen months that would never have happened in my twenties or thirties. These “riding the rage” moments simultaneously shocked me and made me really proud of myself. One of them was with a hateful woman who lives down the street from me; you regular readers will remember it as Dog Poogate, not because I called it that when I wrote it but because it just fits and it’s my blog so I can trigger your memory in any way I want. Heh.
The other one, way more memorable, was the time in which that hateful woman touched my meat. If you need a laugh and only have time for one, read that one.
My twenty-something self had a lot to learn. My thirty-something self was well on her way. My forty-something self is finding happiness now that I take an active role in standing up for myself (and my family), and though I wish I had been doing that all along, my life as I lived it is what got me to this point, and I wouldn’t trade my journey for the world.
©2010 Suburban Scrawl
I'm so pissed at that photographer for saying that to you. And good for you for now sticking up for yourself. I'm learning to do the same (remind me to tell you about the union meeting when I totally called someone on taping it with her cell…)
Love you! xoxo
I'm always amazed when people tell me I'm overweight. I always want to dramatically gasp and exclaim, "OMG-Really!?!?" But I don't.
I'm sorry that the stupid photographer was insensitive and stupid. And I'm glad you feel good about who you've become. Because you're pretty awesome.
And just think…if you've always been the girl who stuck up for herself, we wouldn't have had this post to read. 🙂
Glad you had the chutzpah!
And for 1984, your hair was very stylish and not overly BIG!
The animal clipped onto your collar did make me LOL, though. 🙂
It makes me sad that you have remembered a hurtful comment like that for decades =(
You're fabulous and always will be.
The guy probably had OCD issues, or Tourettes, or something. Because he certainly had no manners.
And I don't think you're overweight and i love your hair in that photo.
I've had similar feelings- although it isn't that I didn't stand up for myself before. It's that now… as a parent… my bullshit meter is more sensitive and because I have way more improtant stuff in life to focus on, I have ZERO tolerance for BS. I think that's a huge part of why I don't miss community theatre. I have friends who tell me stories of backstage gossip and mean directors and all kinds of BS that goes on. I remember it well- it's nothing new, it hasn't improved. I have no desire to immerse myself back in that kind of thing and if I did… I would have no patience or tolerance for the BS. So I'd be a lot more likely to say something or lose my temper, even.
I'm the same way about having THE BEST comback, about 10 minutes too late. I don't know if it's not me taking up for myself, or just that I am dumbfounded at the rudeness of some people.
I working on my timing. I should have it set around age 50.
Amen it's good to be 40! Although I think I'm always going to be a Drive Home processor ("Doh, I shoulda said: ______"), I definitely have a lot more of those, "Excuse me, what did you just say?" moments as a I get older. Let's call it confidence and grace!
k a t i e
What. A. Tool.
I'm glad you're in a "better place" now, I'm hoping one day I'll learn some of that magic, myself.
And I certainly don't think you're O/W.
I cannot believe that douchebag said that! SRSLY? (Am I allowed to say douchebag on your blog?)
Anways, your hair was GORG! And your personality is even better! I'm working on getting better– I've always been someone who has been mostly a doormat, but I am getting much better now; all I have to do is stop being so passive aggressive to those who have hurt me/pissed me off, and that is MUCH harder.
It's all a work in progress.
I think that your whole self is pretty fantastic.
Maybe you were overweight at the time, but I would never classify you as overweight now. You are way more healthy, strong and fit than I.
Clark Kent's Lunchbox
I totally understand what you are saying in this post and I know how hard it is to stand up. My wife is going through the same thing and for the same reasons. If you get a chance, go to the library (or on the net) and look up books on "enneagrams." The stuff in there is very telling (and accurate) in helpful in understand a lot of who we are and why we do certain things.
You are a very sweet person and you have probably grown balls since you met me. Haha!
Um, did you have 3 gigantic bows in your hair in that pic or was that in the background? Love the animal clip.
I promise I will never tell someone they are fat while I am taking their picture. Good Lord! Someone asked me if I was pregnant once (and I wasn't) which was bad enough!
You are a beautiful person inside and out and I am glad that you are my friend 🙂
Wow that's ummm pretty rotten. Boo to him. But yay to you for getting happy and comfortable and standing up for yourself. I'm still working on that part some.
And explain the animal thing? I missed that trend. The bolo ties I was there for but not that one.