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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

As young women, we are usually preached about how we should always be guided by our soft feminine side. This includes faking a phone call just so that you can escape from that one chatty friend’s rant about her latest Tinder date — instead of simply telling her that your brain cannot handle it anymore — to adding an exclamation point after every text just so that you don’t supposedly offend the other person.

To be fair though, I was brought up in a South-Asian household in the western part of India, and my parents were pretty chill with everything I did (with boundaries of course). However, I always seemed to be facing issues that were considered almost bizarre by everyone else, including myself.

While other teenagers in my class were getting reprimanded for talking excessively or being too disruptive, I, on the other hand, was being scolded for being too coy or not standing up for myself. Ever. I mean back then honestly, I never thought that snuggling up in a corner while perusing through a Jane Austen novel would cause such a hindrance in my emotionally-wired developmental stages as an adult. Oh boy, little did I know that this would create a chaotic pattern for other aspects of my life as I surged out of my city, and eventually my country.

With ‘other aspects of my life,’ I am referring to men and other social groups who would, later on, play an active part in my evolutionary process as a social being. Cancelling on Bumble dates where the guy just straight-up seemed like the embodiment of a red/crimson/scarlet/vermillion flag, seemed like jumping through rings of scorching hot fire for me, just because I gave him the power to perceive me in a certain way. Well, ladies restore your power and keep it to yourself. I mean, one of the early indicators of my problem that I should have acknowledged was when I picked Dean over Jess or Logan during my first run-through of Gilmore Girls. Yikes.

One misconception I always carried with me back home was that I am somehow defined by the perception of other people, even if they are, weirdly, strangers. As a universal society that obsesses over the pettiest of mishaps, I think that human beings have naturally evolved to be judgemental of other individuals’ positive traits or success.

Now that I am writing this article, as a confident 18-year-old self-proclaimed girl-boss who blasts Bollywood music shamelessly on my quirky turquoise headphones while walking down the Rideau Canal pathway or the Carleton tunnels, I know that not standing up for myself was the worst things I have ever done. I used to be extremely afraid of confronting other people about even the smallest of things, such as if they owed me some money, or even if it was simply saying the word ‘no’ when I automatically became a part of plans I was never comfortable with in the first place.

Rewinding back to the first paragraph of this article, I feel like, as a woman, I need to be in touch with my soft, feminine side and use it in the right way in order to glorify parts of myself that are honestly so beautiful. So instead of embroiling the softness for ‘not standing up for oneself,’ we should instead fiercely channel our
inner Elle Woods or whichever icon you follow and say ‘get the f- out of my face.’ Okay, maybe not that harsh. But a two-lettered ‘no’ never hurt anybody in the history of this planet’s harsh vocabulary list.

Mannat Gujral

Carleton '27

Mannat is a 2nd-year Psychology and Law student at Carleton University. She is a true crime fanatic, which is why it is probably not a great idea to open her Netflix watchlist! Along with that, she enjoys singing, somewhere between the shower and karaoke spectrum, and one of her interests also includes poetry! She is deeply encapsulated by the diverse area of politically challenging topics along with philosophy.