One of the most important lessons I ever learned came from a discussion on sexual harassment during training for my beloved new career. Fortunately enough, the application of this noteworthy life lesson didn’t come in response to being harassed in the workplace–however, I have gotten goosed by accident on the plane a time or two, but that’s neither here nor there. But the words that truly stuck with me as a constant reminder to put on my ‘big girl panties’ and face my problems head on, were, “a few moments of discomfort could spare you a lifetime of grief.” Essentially, nip things in the bud before they become significantly worse for you and others.
Now of course, during this training session, those words were suggesting that you explain to people your physical boundaries or areas of discomfort as soon as others come close to crossing them, before you and your counterpart are put in a potentially damaging situations. This makes perfect sense; if you feel uncomfortable with that hand on your shoulder or your coworker’s adult humor, say so before it becomes a habit. While you may feel like bringing up your personal boundaries makes for an uncomfortable or maybe even offensive conversation, better that for just a few awkward and tense moments, than potentially dreading your entire work experience, or flying off the handle once the situations start to escalate.
Complete genius or common sense? Either way, it is great practice in nearly every situation. However, I, for one, avoid conflict and confrontation like the plague; thus, I find the few moments of discomfort (in my mind, of course) last forever. Now as I’ve gotten older and am experiencing moments in life that could fare far better with simple (never easy, but indeed simple) conversations, I am finding it imperative that I ‘man up’ and have these uncomfortable conversations. I, as so many other young adults these days, have found the joy that is Pinterest. I came across a pin one day that would, along with this valuable lesson, which I am continually learning, would change my entire way of thinking.
Learn to say no without explaining yourself.”
Well by golly, if it were just that simple! What will the others say? What if they think I’m mean, stingy, heartless, uncaring, inconsiderate, lazy, etc.? In a simple answer, courtesy of my friend (during a heartfelt conversation concerning choosing the best time to re-hang my crooked wall art so as not to disturb my neighbor): “So! Get your life straight, he’ll be fine.” And really and truly, most of the time that is the case. I am constantly reminding myself that while I should always consider the effects my decisions have on other people, my feelings, and experiences and well-being matter as well. And that’s as good a reason as any for the decisions I make, right?
As someone who sees being a ‘good’ friend as a matter of great importance and a truly redeeming character trait, I sometimes find myself and my generosity being taken advantage of. It’s far too easy to just say yes and figure things out afterwards. But that often results in stress and high tension within relationships, especially if you’re the only one providing the ‘yes.’ Often times, one too many a ‘yes’ has caused me to have to step back and reevaluate some of my most cherished relationships (which, while completely necessary at some points, can really be emotionally taxing–but that’s a whole ‘nother life lesson). I am, now reminded of that ever famous break-up line, “it’s not you, it’s me.” And situations like these, that is quite often the case. They all aren’t greedy, energy-sucking, leeches trying to get over on me; they know I am caring and reliable and interested in helping and I always say yes, so why not ask me? It’s a vicious cycle into which I’ve thrown myself. Now it’s a matter of pulling myself out of it.
I am working hard on putting these lessons into practice and to convince myself, that as much as I care and would like to help everyone I can, if their requests aren’t conducive to the life I am attempting to live, it is perfectly acceptable to just say no.