When I was younger, I had an extremely hard time standing up for myself. I never wanted to hurt anyone and thought that I would cause hurt feelings if I stood up for myself – I actually didn’t even know HOW to stand up for myself. Mix that with a lack of self-confidence, meekness, and low self-esteem… when I got bullied, I didn’t say or do anything back, I just took it and allowed my confidence and self-esteem to go down another notch. Looking back on it now, I was only hurting myself by not standing my ground.
Moving on to later in my life, I knew my being “nice” and my lack of assertiveness effected the way I handled unwanted sexual advances. In my past when I was hit on, I would smile and giggle or playfully roll my eyes and just brush it off, even if I did not feel comfortable with that attention. I felt that if I were to stand up for myself and tell him I’m not interested or tell him to politely F off, that I would be labeled as a bitch. And likely, I would’ve been.
I remember shortly after I separated from my husband, I got a message on Facebook from a guy who started talking to me and eventually asked me out. I very politely told him I wasn’t in a place in my life to start dating. His response: “Ha! Good luck with finding a real man with that stuck up attitude!” Seriously? He very quickly went from trying to “woo” me to calling me stuck up – all because I wasn’t interested in him (or anyone for that matter). He didn’t like that I didn’t buy into his games of stroking his ego – how dare I be an individual with her own agency.
As I’ve grown older and have some life experience under my belt, I have learned that standing up for yourself is crucial, no matter what the other person thinks. In any situation, standing up for yourself and being assertive in the way you know you should be treated, is proving your self-worth not only to the other person, but to yourself as well.
I’m curious if any other women have experienced this dilemma… stand up for yourself and be a “bitch” or just giggle and smile to be nice?