I Wish I Knew That It’s Okay To Stand Up For Yourself

When I was a kid, there was this girl I was “friends” with who I actually didn’t like very much. She was bossy, bratty, controlling and just plain nasty. For obvious reasons, she didn’t get along with anyone in our grade. But while most of my friends had no problem snubbing this girl and calling her out on her rude comments, I never did. Despite the fact that she was almost never nice to me, I never once stood up for myself in front of her.

Why? It was because I was too scared to ever talk back to her. Yes, she was mean and she deserved to be told to back the eff off, but I was shy and quiet. The thought of confronting her or even of just saying, “Hey. Don’t speak to me that way,” terrified me more than I can explain.

This little issue stuck with me for most of my life. Although I had a lot of friends, I was a tiny, quiet and reserved girl. People who were more outgoing than me knew that they could take advantage of me because they knew I probably wasn’t going to do anything about it. Examples?

I had a few guy friends who teased me “endearingly” about something that actually really annoyed me – and instead of asking them to stop, I laughed along with them. When my best friend in middle school started dating the guy she knew I had been crushing on since kindergarten, I let it slide and even helped her spend more time with him. When I gained a frenemy who repeatedly tried breaking up my high school boyfriend and me, I couldn’t seem to get the guts to ever tell her off.

I was always bummed about being so scared. | Source: ShutterStock

For years, I was super scared of confrontation. No matter how angry I would be on the inside, I just couldn’t muster up the courage to ever tell someone when they were being a total jerk to me. Most of the time, I would just go home and cry instead. And if the anger ever did boil up enough to come out, I would end up stuttering, blushing and mumbling my way through the awkward conversation. I constantly wished I could just stand up for myself and stop letting people take advantage of me.

In college, I got a job as a waitress at a popular restaurant, and the people I worked with were different than any of my friends from high school. My co-workers terrified me. They were loud, bossy, opinionated and they were never afraid to speak their mind. I walked through the restaurant barely speaking because I had never felt so intimidated.ย  Although my co-workers could be obnoxious, I was still super jealous of them. They said what they felt! They didn’t let other servers or managers take advantage of them. Meanwhile, I couldn’t even speak up when someone stole my tray of Diet Cokes.

Eventually, they became my friends, and their behavior started rubbing off on me. When my manager refused to give me extra shifts even though he had promised he would, I confronted him about it. When another server took the bread I had prepared for my table, I chased him down and made him give it back to me.

Soon, this behavior started happening outside of work as well. The biggest moment for me was when I finally cut off my ex-boyfriend. After weeks of trying to win me back, he showed up to a party I was at and blatantly flirted with one of my friends. We didn’t speak for two weeks, and when he finally called me as if nothing were wrong, I said, “Please don’t ever call me again. You don’t treat me the way I deserve to be treated and I want nothing to do with you.”

Since then, I think I can say that I’ve finally learned to stand up for myself. When guys I date try to jerk me around, I have no problem approaching them to ask them what their problem is. When I catch a friend lying to me or being shady, I can confront her to tell her she’s being a really bad friend and she needs to cut it out. If a guy I’m dating ever says anything particularly rude to me, I can say, “Don’t speak to me that way ever again” in a tone that’s commanding enough to actually kind of scare him.

I can’t tell you how good it feels to not let people walk all over me. For so long, I had put aside my needs and happiness just so that I didn’t have to get in an argument with someone. I was so scared of losing friends or turning guys off. Now I know that if people are going to stop being friends with me just because I stood up for myself, they weren’t worth being friends with in the first place.

I’m not going to lie, confronting people definitely still scares me. Sometimes it takes me a few hours (or days) to psych myself up enough to say something. Once in a while, I feel more comfortable doing it over the phone, rather than in person. And every single time I start a confrontation, my hands shake, my face flushes and my stomach feels like jelly. But it doesn’t matter, because I finally feel like I have the courage to stand up for myself, whether it be to my boyfriend, my boss, my BFF or a complete stranger. I just wish I had always been able to do this. Not only would it have made life easier, it also would have made me much happier.

Do you ever have trouble standing up for yourself? Do you ever let people take advantage of you? How do you get the courage to stand up for yourself? Tell us in the comments.


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Posted in: Confessions
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  • Dad

    It’s Goofy time! …. No dad noooo ๐Ÿ™

  • Mitch

    When i was child , my dad use to beat me twice a week , and my Mom also the same lots of hate , wish me go to hell , no one like me , every body make laugh of me , i don’t know how to explain ( my family love me a lot ,and they hate me a lot ) my personality is broken , i’m very actife strong , i care of the other , but no one care about me i enjoy take responsablity , i always doing great job, i love to make people happy, but inside me i feel empty , ( people said money talk… WONDERING if is true …
    please tell me from where i can buy luck ….( thank you …

    • garbagewhokillsformoney

      find someone you you trust who you can talk to. if people treat you poorly walk away. its better to be alone then surrounded by those who want to destroy you.

  • Haru

    Hello. I just stumbled on this article today and am glad I did. I am beginning to realize that I don’t speak up like I should. There are times when I can tell people no when they want something, but I believe there are many more times where I am too nice. I am scared to confront people because it frightens me to see their faces turn from a happy one to something of anger. But the fact that I can be too nice to others also seems to be an insult to myself. When I let people walk on me I realize that I am not valuing my own self-worth such as my thoughts and feelings at the time.

    The other day I was working and pouring sauces into small cups for a lunch shift. This one guy thought it was okay to just steal them from me without bothering to ask and yelled NO! so very loud in the kitchen. I told him that those cups were for tomorrow’s shift and he sort of brushed me off and took them anyway. I called him an a**hole because I felt so angry that I had been stepped on like that. Later on he asked me if I was still mad and I looked away and said no when in fact I still was. I was just afraid that he would get angry at me, but me not saying what I really felt was probably worse.

    I have also been keeping my feelings and worries away from others such as my parents. I am so tired of shutting my opinion and true thoughts in my head. But it’s very to just speak when you’re so used to silence. I wish I were more assertive and confident.

    • Haru

      *and I yelled NO!

  • GuardianAngel14

    I don’t have that problem but I don’t stick up for myself because I think there is a resin they did that to me/them/everyone and I just want to find out that reason and try to help them. ^.^

  • haley

    Have you found that after standing up for yourself, the people who were rude to begin with, no longer want to be friends with you, as if you were the rude one. If. So… Why? I’ve experienced this and found that by standing up for myself I’ve lost many friends… Is this because I went about it the wrong way..?

    • garbagewhokillsformoney

      ive seen it happen many times and its happened to me as well. i have stood up to people who treated me poorly and they stopped talking to me. sadly, there are many people who only want to have a relationship with you if they are the strong one and you are the weak one they can dump all over. they dont want you on their level, which means they really dont care about your well being or self image. its a power thing ( i’ve found ). its painful and confusing and makes no sense. i get it.

    • stevienix

      This happened to me and now I just have my kids and husband. I even use the right terminology.. I feel like when you do this.. it feels shady to me. OMG I was lied about she told people I called her mother shady that I did this and that, all I said was that feels shady to me. I Now know a true friend would have been OMGosh I am so sorry I made you feel that way. Nope total attack invalidation and lies.. If you are on here you might have come in contact with a narcissist. This is their M.O . to try to put you back into your place where they are in control and you aren’t. These people were never there for us for altruistic reasons. THey were there for that lovely energy suckage they do.. F*ck em. They weren’t worthy of true friendship to begin with. I am learning this more and more, I still have sad days but you know what? Their stupid ass drama is out of my life and even when I am sad or mad about it there is still an element of freedom that I never had. Someone who truly loves us should be ok with us standing up for ourselves especially when there is no malice or abuse in the standing up. Stay strong and never let anyone kick you while your are down! There are lots of us out here who do know how to be a friend! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Laurie

    I appreciated this article very much. Most of my life I was not able to hold my own during any sort of confrontation, I felt that I was less than the person who was confronting me or controlling my situation I was in. As I have gotten older, after being a pleaser most of my life just to keep things calm and easy to avoid any confrontation, I became unhappy. Recently, even at my age women play these stupid little games for competition with you. Yes, ladies it doesn’t end. Once a girl, always a girl does not matter how old you are. Anyway, a friend of a friend said she was hurt and asked me to tell her if our friend was rude to her and I answered truthfully, yes! Then the other friend asked me if she was rude to her other friend and I told the truth in my estimation she was rude. I was trying not to take sides but tell the truth to both people.

    Well, now I am out of the group except for polite hellos and accomodating invitations with them hoping I won’t except. So at my age finding a new group of friends just makes me want to retreat even more to my home and no friends. What makes me want to not say my peace, is it is just easier to not confront. I ask in my mind “what is the use,” Yet somehow, I want to change the way I think about this whole stupid affair. Everyone else can say their part, but I am less than in my mind so I don’t think anything I say will count. Anyone have an answer for me at my age? I really need to think and get out of this box.

  • AnonGirl

    What do I do. I really want to hit my mum back. When we argue she rages and I just can’t. She can punch and kick me and all I can do is scream in anger.i have planned on ways to torture in my head but can’t. I always forgive like an hour later. She has just ripped all my 6th form work up and threw all sorts at me because I wouldn’t go the shop for chocolate on time. Wtf. She has just had a baby 3 weeks ago and is arguing with her boyfriend over nothing. He doesn’t want to argue and she is arguing with me. I have no time to redo my a-level work. What can I say to my teacher. My mum has ADHD and I have ADD. xx

  • Ichigo431

    I don’t have problems with confrontation, but in grade 8, I let a girl I thought was my friend use me to go from being the biggest loser to being quite popular, and spread rumours about me on the way.

  • Lotrnerd616

    I can stand up for myself, but I have OCD, and these boys are always knocking my stuff out of line. I can’t help it; my stuff has to be in line, but I do tell them to back the hell off! It doesn’t work, because I have to move my stuff back and that’s what they want, but hey, I can try! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • DayaSweetHeart

    I’m afraid to stand up for myself for the same exact reasons as well but I’m getting better at it ๐Ÿ™‚ This gave me inspiration for myself thank you !

  • Magster

    I try my best to stand for myself

  • destinyshae

    i wish i could but i was bullied by some gurl in my 7th period class an she was calling me fat an ugly when i dont wear make-up clothes tht r to tight for my body or anything tht she was, an im proud of myself im shy but at lest im me, i hve chestnut brown, cat green eyes, im 5’8, my favorite color is neon green, an ive gone through a lot, my grandparents died of breast,lung,bone cancer my parents are divorced, an im a lil over weight but she had no right to say any of tht to me i had not said anything rude or mean to her, an she was laughing at me an finally i just said ”look u skinny lil b*tch i no im not perfect but i no u aint either no 1 is so just shut up an sit down an learn something!” i get along with every1 except for her, im nice an sweet 99% of the time ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Badbtchx3

      you’ll be fine hun ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Lynn

      I know it’s tough but you must remember something, You are perfect just the way you are. People that judge you on their scale of perfection honestly hate them selves inside. Sounds like you are a smart girl with a great set of friends just ignore the ugly around you and let your beauty shine strong for everyone to see. You are better then you know and as long as you believe that your life will be awesome! God luck and please take care because even if you don’t see it right now , you have a great life coming your way! Stay strong <3

  • Cassidy

    Guh, today a girl told me my opinion didn’t matter. Wish I read this before that!

  • basschick

    same here!!! isn’t it funny how a job can change you?

  • Chantelle

    I’ll admit, I am the same way. I’m trying to work on it, but it’s going to take a while. Hey, one step at a time right.