Perhaps one of the most difficult things about being an introvert — or a human, for that matter — is speaking your truth aloud or to others. Even though we exist in a society that tries to force us to be extroverts (reality shows are perhaps the biggest offender of this), and even though we’ve grown used to posting our every thought/idea/meal online for others to see, we’re not getting very much quality. We’re definitely getting quantity.
Many people are taught in childhood and later that their opinions or ideas don’t matter, or that they’re inferior ideas. Those fragile thoughts get mashed underfoot the stampede of extrovertedness most prevalent in the world. Because we introverts have a more difficult time speaking up or speaking out, we often neglect to do so. We’d rather not face the potential backlash, because that might then mean we would have to defend ourselves, which, at least for me, is anathema to my own well-being.
However, there are times when speaking out is required. We can live our entire lives being submissive or passive, but eventually, we must learn to stand up for ourselves.
Typically, I’m a very outspoken introvert. I stand up for the underdogs of the world. I don’t actively seek these situations out, mind you. But I seem to encounter many such opportunities in the course of my day to day life. Most recently, I accepted a position with a local university after being mostly unemployed for more than three years. While I truly enjoy the work I signed up for, it’s been an ongoing struggle with the team I joined. All of them (there are 7 people in our department) have a long history of working together, which makes me the decided outsider. The fact that this team did very little to welcome me into the their midst had made the past four months hellish. However, for those months and weeks on the job, I did not stand up to the bullying and other unprofessional tactics being utilized in our office. Over time, however, I found myself becoming depressed, frustrated, and angry. I consider myself a fairly patient person. However, I have reached the end of that patience.
Yesterday seemed the culmination of my frustration and anger. Everything triggered me, from my supervisor sending an underling to continually check up on me, to the decidedly negative and unprofessional tone of every communication issued to me directly.
At home last evening, I lay on my bed, upset to the point where I couldn’t even enjoy reading, which is my favorite past-time. Well, besides writing, that is. I felt as if the entire series of events had taken me to an internal tipping point. It’s not a good feeling at all. I make myself very aware of my inner thoughts and feelings simply so I do NOT reach such a level of despair.
Thinking it through, I felt that I might not be able to achieve a suitable level of emotional disconnect so that I could see more clearly and reach better conclusions, which in turn would lead to better choices and decisions. But then I began to see these issues differently. I saw that I was allowing others to treat me in such a hurtful way. I was not the victim here. I was the volunteer. On the heels of that realization came the feeling of being on the verge of freeing myself from the deep despair I found myself in. I only had to act in my best interests, releasing the need I had to “keep the peace” so I could keep my job. I asked myself, Would you sacrifice what you perceive to be the “perfect job” in order that you might stand up for yourself? I was surprised that my answer was a resounding “Yes!” I had thought — perhaps erroneously so — that the only way I could hold onto this position would be to absorb and live with the egregious behavior of my colleagues. But then I realized that not saying anything was the way I might have handled it a long time ago.
I come from an exceptionally abusive past, and the people I chose to allow into my life perpetuated that abuse. Until I woke up. Until I realized what it was I was doing to myself. I understood that by allowing others to step on my ideals, my thoughts, and my dreams, I was instead inviting those others to enable my own sense of low self-worth. It has taken decades to overcome that trait. Yet, here I was, right back in the middle of it once more.
I consulted with an acquaintance of mine via cell phone. She hosts a regional radio program every Tuesday night out of somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. She’s also an amazing astrologer. Her advice:
SPEAK YOUR TRUTH AND STEP BACK. She encouraged me to say what needed to be said, then get out of the way and allow my words to do what they needed to do. She didn’t promise any silver lining or pot of gold at the end of that dark rainbow. Simply say it, and move it. My first reaction was to think, That’s crazy. If I speak my truth, I become more vulnerable to attack. I open myself up too much.
Noting my own resistance, I decided to sleep on her advice. Typically, resistance — to me, anyway — indicates a thought or idea that I am trying to avoid. Which further means that there’s a reason I’m avoiding it. Because I don’t want to learn the lesson being presented to me. Which is probably the greatest reason for standing up and facing it.
Things we avoid are usually the things that require the most immediate attention. Otherwise, we’re merely prolonging the inevitable. Because what we choose not to deal with now, circles around and comes back to us again and again until we learn it.
I awoke with a nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach, wondering if I had the fortitude to stand up to those who would see me torn down.
But after going through my usual morning rituals, I realized: if not now, when?
So I did it. I chose a very non-antagonistic and calm way in which to do so…but I stated my TRUTH. It was terrifying at first. But once it was released into the universe, I immediately began feeling much, much calmer and sure of my decision. I also stood back after doing so, which was even harder. I wanted so badly to follow my declaration of my Truth with something that would have most certainly watered it down, would have obstructed the clarity of it.
Because I stayed calm and remained clear in my thoughts as to what I wanted the outcome to be, I felt more in control of my frustration and anger. I found that, rather than acting on a need to lash out or act irrationally, I was instead centered and focused. Now the proverbial “ball” is in someone else’s court. And that’s fine with me. Because I stayed true to myself and said what I needed to say. What they do with that information is their choice, and will provide the information I need to move forward, or move on.
So that anxiety and stress has been minimized to a much more satisfactory level.
And I feel fine.