I’ve been doing a little experiment this week: I’ve decided to speak my mind.
You see, it seems I’ve focused so heavily on empathy and tact, both of which I value highly, that these qualities are now backfiring, and the following has becomes true: the greater my empathy, tact and, well, likability, the more I end up a doormat. A grumpy, angry (and often sleep-deprived) doormat.
The difficulty I’m encountering in my newly rekindled efforts to just tell people how I really feel? Instead of feeling empowered or confident or respectably opinionated, I may come off as a huge (for lack of a better word) b#tch.
Perhaps this is because I set one precedent and am trying to turn on a dime; my sudden honesty and opposition is such a departure from the confluence people expect from me that it comes as an unpleasant surprise.
EXHIBIT A: When, after it had been happening for a month, I finally asked my roommate’s boyfriend (who now lives with us) if he could end his mandolin practicing by midnight on work nights, he seemed shocked. Not only as if it had never occurred to him that plucking away at 3am in the bedroom right above mine might be problematic, but also as if I’d slapped him on the wrist along with my request. And now he acts weird around me. But I feel INFINITELY better and can finally sleep through the night.
Or (also likely), I’m having a little too much fun with this excuse to tell it like it is…
EXHIBIT B: I’ve been a member of Facebook for a while now and have noticed that there’s a certain type of friend who feels the need to use their status box to perpetually update us on their extensive and amazing exercise routines (“rode my bike 10 miles, ran uphill for another 5, pilates for a cool-down…. ready to start my day!!). Usually I grumble to myself over this kind of public gloating; I workout, too, but I don’t feel the need to validate myself (and make others feel like lesser people) by broadcasting my routines.
When one of these updates popped onto my homepage, I replied with a status that informed the offenders (without mentioning names) that from now on I would be hiding updates from people who felt the need to do this. Shortly thereafter, I got a comment from one of the main offenders saying this was, “Kind of harsh.”
So was it?
Am I just getting carried away with this honesty thing? Are there some things that, no matter how stongly you feel about them, should just be kept to yourself? There must be some fine line between trampling and being trampled upon. It’s possible that I got caught up enjoying the sudden freedom from the shackles of nice-ness and overshot that line. So – apologies to any victims; most experiments need refining, and this apparently is no exception.
But is hasn’t all been Wicked Witch of the West this week.
There was also an instance the other night when I was upset with J and decided to be open and honest about my disappointment.
EXHIBIT C: I don’t have a lot of experience being angry at J, and he’s difficult to stay mad at, so in the past I’ve let a lot of little things go. But I know from experience that this behavior can be dangerous – often leading to an explosion of “little thing” shrapnel down the road. In this instance, I chose to tell him exactly how his actions had affected me, without yelling or throwing blame around. And, by god, he understood. As he explained back to me exactly how I was feeling, I heard that he understood. He couldn’t take back what had happened that evening, but his comprehension of where I was coming from remedied the situation for me completely.
As you can see, this experiment’s had some mixed results. So – apologies to any victims; most experiments need refining, and this apparently is no exception. I’m working on it, with the idea that everyone will benefit when I get it right.