Your Outspoken Friend Wants You to Stick Up For Her

 

The friend that always speaks up for you needs you to speak up for her. Seems simple enough, right? Obviously, friendship is a give and take; where one person is strong for the other in one instance, the cycle reverses when the other one is in need — and so the dynamic continues. Sometimes certain factors can influence this give-and-take, though, such as personality type, natural disposition, circumstance, etc. But, any worthwhile friendship will push you to explore the boundaries of your personality, help you expand your idea of yourself and what you are capable of. It will in some capacity transform your notion of “the kind of person” you are. 

This is where I - a loudmouthed, standup, outspoken friend myself - implore the softer spoken and the naturally more reserved to do their friends like me a solid: push yourself to return their favors and stand up/speak out for them too. 

Think of the times that friend has snapped back to someone who has said something rude to you or has even just done the job of asking the teacher your embarrassing question. When someone expresses this loyalty to you, they aren’t just defending you, they are showing you what is important to them in relationships. Hopefully, how they treat you is also how they want to be treated and thus, we can assume that when your bestie calls out the dude on the street for making a snide remark about your figure, or backs you up in a classroom debate or comes to your aid when your other friends are being judgemental— they are asking you to do the same. 

Of course not everyone who is more “reserved” or “introverted” is someone who doesn’t speak up for others, and of course, not everyone who is “loud” or “defensive” is constantly acting from a place of pure moral integrity. But in my experience, it can be these trope personality types that create the untrue and ultimately unhelpful idea that only certain people can and need to be stood up for. 

Obviously, safety is always the top concern. No one is asking you to put yourself in harm’s way just for the sake of some supposed expression of loyalty. But that said, standing up for someone when they need you is a sacrifice nonetheless. It won’t come without some cost, even if that cost is limited to fleeting social ostracization or a “stain” on your reputation. When you stand up for someone else, you open yourself up to scrutiny and judgment. Showing your friend that you would do that for her is, in my humble opinion, one of the most valiant displays of loyalty and compassion that you can offer her. 

Here’s the simple truth: just because your friend will stand up for herself doesn’t mean she should always have to. As someone of the more— erm— talkative creed, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard this one excuse from friends as to why they may not have taken my side in an argument or situation. Essentially what it boiled down to was that they thought that my opponent was less likely to speak up for themselves or was more in a sense, “fragile”. And so, the logic goes, they needed an advocate more than I did. 

I call BS. A lack of assertiveness or openness is not grounds for support of an idea or perspective. I might be fighting the good fight and making my case well, but it’s just as isolating to be silent and afraid of confrontation as it is to be the single voice in the crowd, opening yourself up to the scrutiny and misunderstanding of others. Does standing up for myself on a regular basis disqualify me from outside help? Does it make me somehow less deserving or in need of support? No, I don’t think so. 

Many friendships thrive off of symbiotic dynamics— where one friend shines in one category, the other hangs back and has room to grow and vice versa. While this is a perfectly valid and common dynamic, the other crucial aspect of friendship is learning from each other and adopting some of your friend’s good features into your own persona. Unsurprising confession: I am that outspoken friend, and some of my less forthright friends have told me that I have inspired them to be bolder and more assertive about their beliefs— just as they have taught me to adopt the virtues of quiet contemplation and thoughtfulness. It’s better for everyone when you don’t limit yourself to a one-sided personality trope. Friendships are a form of self-expansion and expression. I need to know that when I am speaking up on behalf of my friends that they appreciate it and would do the same for me. And hey, if I’m speaking up for you and you don’t agree with what I’m saying or just don’t need me to do so— tell me that! The last thing I want is to misrepresent someone. But saying nothing will yield negative results for everyone. And it won’t do your friendship any favors. 

In summation, jump in next time your friend begins to raise hell on your behalf. If you appreciate her doing that, do it back. When she needs you, even if she is doing fine on her own, help her. Push yourself. I promise that we, the loud-and-proud, will in return try harder to listen and let someone else take the reigns once in a while.