June 18, 2009

Not Backing Down

Generally, I am very non-confrontational. My boyfriend has tried multiple times to teach me that not all confrontation is bad. While I know he's right in theory, I can't seem to get it out of my mind that confrontations lead to fights... and I hate fighting.

In the past few years, though, there have been some pretty significant situations where I've felt that I was wronged by others. In an effort to learn how to defend myself, I've been using these as opportunities for confrontation.

Even after college, I remained close friends with a group that I met in middle school. Somewhere along the line, though, those friendships changed. I no longer felt that I was valued, regarded, or even respected by this group, and it was really hurtful. With the support of my boyfriend, I learned how to express my feelings (this was hard for me) in an effort to rectify the situation. The harder part, though, was having the courage to walk away from those relationships when I felt that I wasn't being heard. This situation taught me that sometimes we confront situations and the outcome is not desirable.

Other times, though, we confront situations and the outcome is very desirable. One such instance is when I confronted an out-of-line professor for the way he treated me in class. I even had to go as far as reporting his behavior to his supervisors and appealing to a board of my peers for a grade change (which I felt was unjust). There were several times in this process that I felt it would be easier to "let it go," but because I confronted the situation, action was taken. My grade was changed, and I received a formal apology from the university for my professor's behavior.

I think that the biggest thing I'm learning in this process is that "I matter." It's not okay for someone to treat me unjustly, and I have a right to defend myself. What a great lesson to learn... even if it took me 27 years to get here.

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