Sunday, February 16, 2014

If You Don't Like Being a Doormat, Get Off the Floor

As human beings, it's a given that we're constantly growing and changing. That's why I'm a big believer in setting goals: as we grow and change, it's natural to realize things about yourself that you'd like to do differently, or better.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I developed anxiety problems when I came to college. One of the side effects of that anxiety was something I really don't like about myself- I became, temporarily at least, a doormat. Confrontation gave me anxiety, so I decided it was much easier for my mental health to be a people pleaser. It was a band-aid on a bigger problem, at best. But it's what I've been doing for the past three years. If someone was shitty to me, I'd just brush it off and say "oh, it's okay, no worries," or something to an equally spineless effect. I forgot how to stand up for myself.

This was a serious departure from my usual self. Something I really admire about my younger self was that she wasn't afraid of confrontation. If I didn't like someone, I didn't spend my time sitting around worried if they were going to find out. I was up front about it. And even if people don't want to hear that you don't like them, they respect you for the honesty.

Somehow, that strong person had been replaced by someone whose anxiety drove her to sit around wondering what people were saying about her. I'd spend hours in my head going over whether or not I had offended someone with a joke I made, or if I would get in trouble for an offhand comment I made about an acquaintance who was rude to me.

So recently, I decided to bring the old me back. I refuse to let anxiety run my life and make me a doormat. I refuse to say things are okay if they really just aren't. And I refuse to be sorry if I don't like someone, or if I'm angry or upset or sad. I'm done discounting my emotions because they might offend someone else. I have a right to feel the way I do, and so do you.

I've seen so many people fall into the same trap I did- letting people walk over you because it's easier than telling them to back the hell off. Forgiveness is great, but in order to forgive someone, you first need to be able to confront them about what they've done. You're not doing any favors by keeping it all in: it'll just fester and make you incredibly unhappy. There's a quote from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close that pretty much sums up the emotional doormat status: "There were things I wanted to tell him. But I knew they would hurt him. So I buried them, and let them hurt me." And that's all your doing when you keep your anger and your pain inside- hurting yourself. You'll be a much more exhilarated, confident person once you discover (or rediscover, in my case) your ability to tell people how they've made you feel.

So roll up the doormat: if a friend stabs you in the back, tell them it isn't okay. If a guy cheats on you, tell him it isn't okay. If someone hurts you, tell them it isn't okay. Sure, confrontation will probably ensue. But you can't live your whole life getting stepped on as you run away from problem after problem: it's a natural part of life. And at least you'll rest a little easier knowing you stuck up for yourself.

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