This morning was about 36 degrees. Here in Massachusetts, that’s a heat wave for January. I decided Anna and I needed some fresh air.
We bundled up, and hit the pavement. She isn’t a fan of having to wear the snowsuit, so we tried layers instead.. She still gave me the sour face for not being able to move freely. She got over it when DJ M.O.M. started bumpin’ baby shark on the speaker. (sorry to anyone in the neighborhood who heard our toddler rave.) We were moving, grooving and happy.
We walk by a ton of our neighbors. They love to tell me how beautiful Anna is, or compliment my weightloss. Anna loves it most when she gets to pet the dogs. She’s a little Dr. Doolittle, I swear. We’ve never had anything but positive interactions.
Well, I guess I can’t say that anymore. A grumpy old man walked up and scolded me for having my baby out in such cold weather. There was a fire lit inside me- anger, frustration, being annoyed- but I just swallowed it and said “have it under control, thanks.”
He seemed surprised when I kept walking, like he was expecting me to be ashamed and apologize. Maybe he was anticipating I’d engage and throw bitter words right back at him. Those are options, but not the only options.
There was a time in my life that words like his would have completely knocked me off my game. With low self confidence, I’d have completely believed his harsh words, been overcome with embarrassment, apologize a million times, and headed home to right my wrong.
I’m not that person anymore. I don’t need to change myself for a disapproving loudmouth. I’m not going to let you make me feel that I’m wrong, or that my worth is anything less than what it is. I don’t have to apologize OR explain myself to you.
I do not have to explain that Anna has one million layers on, or that we haven’t left the house in days. I don’t need to make you understand the road I’ve traveled or why staying active is important to both Anna and I. I have to do what’s right for us, for me. Even though I have taken appropriate precautions, I don’t have to justify them. I owe nothing to you. Not even a conversation.
I won’t lie, as I walked on the anger grew in my mind. “I should have told him to fuck off.” “I should have yelled.” “I should have made him feel as stupid as I did.” “I should have stood up for myself.”
When the voices in my mind quieted down, I realized that I had, in fact, fought back. I stood up for myself without turning into a rage monster. I didn’t embarrass myself, I didn’t cause a scene. I was quietly and simply confident.
Grace has always been my intent, but not always my capability. Working with mood disorders and a younger brain (full or hormones at that) I’ve seen my fighting side. I’ve yelled out of rage, went right for the kill, and said the meanest things I could think of. I’ve even thrown a punch or two. More commonly though, I would retreat back into my low self worth. I’d meekly apologize several times, try to come up with an explanation. I’d run and hide away, beat myself up for being so stupid.
I do not need to explain myself. I owe myself dignity, and owe nothing to anyone else. I don’t need to answer you, and I won’t. I’m not going to engage in negative people. End of story.
This has been a new concept to me, but I’m starting to really get the hang of it. Here are my tips.
- Don’t miss a step. Keep walking, and LITERALLY don’t let them slow you down.
- Simply acknowledge that you heard them with a short reply that doesn’t really engage. Acknowledging their words will empower you by standing up for yourself, instead if just sweeping it under the rug. You’ll feel confident and domineering for kindly taking control of the conversation.
Some of my favorite responses:
- Got it under control, thanks.
- I hope your day gets better! (said with sincere poise, this can be especially liberating to say to a customer service worker who has been less than kind to you.. And it feels much better than yelling or insulting them.)
- The mother of all comebacks, look at them as if you pity them and drop an “ooohhh, I’ll pray for you.”
Mic drop. Walk away. No further engagement.
Hold your head high. Trust your own compass. Have stake on your own intelligence. Speak with conviction, without insult and without shame. You are amazing, and you don’t need to justify why. Be confident.
With happy hearts,
Kate and the Kids.