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Operation Brightside: The Self-Love in Standing Up for Yourself

Growing up, I always heard the phrase “don’t burn any bridges;” it was a dire warning, but a good one. I was terrified of saying the wrong thing, pushing people away, and isolating myself. As a person who has suffered from separation anxiety throughout my entire childhood, teenage years, and young adult life, I fear the seclusion that permeates the idea of standing up for myself. 

I associated making my voice known with getting in trouble because I often poked and prodded the boundaries of what was acceptable to say; it was almost like I wanted to see what I could get away with in terms of arguing. I wasn’t a rebellious kid, but pushing the buttons of those around me served as an outlet for the anxiety that consumed my mind, and that eventually led to me being scared of speaking up. It wasn’t until I matured that I realized the problem wasn’t that I was speaking up for myself — it was how I was saying it.  Recently, my therapist gave me a tool to help in my journey towards becoming more at peace with the idea of standing up for myself. A friend hadn’t been treating me with the respect I deserved, despite my giving our relationship my all. I felt alone, unloved, and like I had little value. My therapist prompted me to write my feelings out — all of them — and see if it helped to declutter my head. After writing a “letter” to my friend, I realized that I really did deserve better (or that, at the very least, I deserved honesty.)

After making a dual pros and cons list (another therapy tool, in which you make a list detailing the pros and cons of either choice in a given situation), I decided to message my friend what I was feeling: that I felt alone, like she didn’t value me, like our friendship was made up of fake feelings and unwanted interactions. And you know what? It worked! She apologized, explained what had been happening in her life to make her grow distant, and we bonded over the situation. Things aren’t perfect, but I am at peace with the situation, knowing that I stood up for myself, as well as my mental and emotional health.  marble and pink notebook Plush Design Studio I didn’t manifest a better friendship through silent worry, hidden anxiety, and distant hopes. I created a better friendship for myself by standing up for who I am and what I believe a healthy friendship should be. The key was not harsh words and passive-aggressive actions; instead, all I had to do was organize my thoughts on paper and send a sincere, loving, and respectful message. There were no tears, no yelling, and no capitalized text messages. There was only hope, calm, and peace of mind. 

I’m writing about this today for two reasons: it was on my mind, and also that I sincerely hope that this story can be an example for you. I want this to be a reason for you to stand up for yourself, whether it be in work, school, or your personal life. Is a romantic partner not giving you the respect you deserve? Write about it, and tell them. Does your male-heavy major not give you enough chances to demonstrate your genius? Write about it, and tell them. Does your boss treat you unfairly? Write about it, and tell them.

Yes, you may lose some connections by speaking up and standing out. But as long as you communicate your message sincerely and respectfully (and don’t burn any bridges), you can truthfully say that you’ve been demonstrating love and respect to the most important person in your narrative: yourself.

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