Last weekend, I went to a salon to do my nails. As soon as the manicurist got hold of my hand he said to me: “You don’t look like you do anything. You look lazy.”
I went full force on him and persisted through his defense about “making a simple observation.”
I didn’t let him faze me with his sexist remarks like “Eh, you’re too tough for a woman.” I didn’t stop till I was absolutely sure that he would be careful the next time he opens his mouth to make an unfounded negative declaration about someone.
Most people would consider this an overreaction. Because most people always find it easier and more comfortable for everyone involved to just smile and be polite. They don’t want to cause a scene or lose a friend or be unpleasant.
They want to continue projecting the ‘nice guy’ persona even if it is at the expense of their emotional well-being.
Someone publicly makes fun of the extra weight a new mother has been trying desperately to get rid of since she gave birth. Every day at work she hears different versions of: “You used to be hot before you had a baby.” She smiles.
At night she starves herself or ties her stomach until she breathes laboriously. Every morning she can’t find anything to wear because she feels ugly; a shell of her former self.
A woman throws out her husband’s entire wardrobe, even his favorite sweater which has sentimental value because in her view, his clothes need to be more stylish.
He keeps quiet because he wants to keep the peace and also because he’s been told that a good husband knows that his wife is always right.
In the end we have a bunch of self-conscious people living inauthentic unhappy lives for no other reason apart from the fact that they don’t speak up.
They don’t say: “Hey. You need to do more around the house because we both work and come back tired.” They don’t tell their bosses: “It’s unprofessional to shout at me in front of my colleagues.” They’d rather avoid or dread family gatherings than speak up and say: “Stop pressuring me into getting married. I am the only person who will be directly affected by the decision.”
To be clear, it’s not necessary to fight over everything. You can’t survive life’s trials unless you have a good sense of humour and you are able to laugh at yourself. But you have to learn to stand up for yourself.
You shouldn’t let people get away with even the seemingly harmless statements or actions if they bother you.
I know that the world rejects bluntness. Outspoken people are seldom popular. But when people don’t speak up, often times they harbor anger which culminates in resentment and then hate and in severe cases it even culminates in war.
The simple truth is that you are more likely to let go if you speak up because you are able to set a standard of what’s acceptable to you. More often than not, people respect the standard.