Take a stand

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

About a year ago, I decided I would learn how to juggle. It didnít take long to find a so-called easy tutorial on Youtube, so I set my computer on a table and grabbed some oranges. While the video did not recommend using fruit, I figured it would up the stakes a bit and I could have a sweet treat once I was done. It was a win-win, right?

Not so much. An hour later, I stood in the living room with orange gunk all over my feet and hands. It turns out oranges donít have very thick skin. After being dropped about 20 times, those oranges disintegrated, and so did my dream of becoming a world-class fruit juggler. I briefly considered trying it with grapes, convinced I could make it work. At no point did I consider using something other than produce.

Iíve had a year to work on it, and my juggling skills havenít exactly improved. Iíve been working on another skill instead Ö a skill I never had until now. I have been learning how to stand up for myself. It might surprise some of you, but itís very difficult for me to confront someone when they have hurt me. Iím the type to sweep it under the rug and hope that solves the problem.

Of course, ignoring a problem does nothing to erase it. It does help build bitterness and negative expectations. For most of my life, I have responded to conflict by trying to make whoever hurt me feel better. Iíll tell them it wasnít that bad, that Iím really not upset. Somehow Iíll end up apologizing to them. Itís not healthy to handle situations like this, but I never want to rock the boat. Iíd like to sail in peace, armed with an umbrella in case of rain.

I became accustomed to rolling over and letting others dictate how I feel for a long time. I bet some of you can understand that. When youíre an emotional person, itís easy to let others treat you how they will, because itís incredibly hard to process negative emotions. You can pretend everything is OK. You can smile at social functions, even if youíre dead inside. Nobody has to know whatís going on inside your head.

Late last year, I was betrayed by someone I loved and trusted. Then one of my best friends died, and this person failed to be there for me. I had an epiphany. If someone says they love and support you, they donít attack you. They donít blame you. They are willing to take blame in the hope of coming to an understanding. They especially donít abandon you when you need them most.

It was tough to realize that, because I knew I had to stand up for myself. I didnít know how. I deeply wanted the situation to resolve itself, but thatís not how life works. Bad feelings donít disappear because itís been a few months. Resentment keeps building. I saw how bitter I had become over the years, and I knew something had to change. The hard part is realizing change starts from within. The situation wasnít going to change until I did, too. So I did.

I took a stand for myself for maybe the first time ever. Leading up to the confrontation, I was so scared of what would happen. In the interest of full disclosure, I cried a lot. I thought it was the end of the world. To my surprise, it wasnít. The confrontation didnít go well, but I sure felt better when it was over.

I felt powerful and worthy. Itís not that I never had the skills to take a stand. Much like my attempt to learn juggling, I had been using the wrong resources. You canít juggle with your hands covered in orange juice, and you canít stand up for yourself with silence. You have to speak out, no matter how uncomfortable it is.

You have to show you have the power to take a stand.

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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com