Doormat, No More!

Doormat, No More!
By Argie May Aprueldo

To nice for your own good?
One girl shows how she learned to speak up to yourself

The people who know me now would probably have a hard time imagining me being shy and reserved but believe me, I was shy. When I was younger, I hated it when people called me “Too nice.” Translation: “You’re a doormat, dear.” Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I was the new girl in school. Suddenly, a sea of new faces surrounded me and I had to learn to get along with everyone. (On the first day of school, I distinctly remember being one of two girls not in uniform. I was mortified!)

It started innocently enough. I’d give way to others or let them borrow things. While I was trying my best to blend in with everyone else, I ignored that a little voice inside of me that rebelled against the docile and passive person that I was turning myself into. Gradually, I learned that my sharing nature had a number of drawbacks – I met girls, who wanted me to share a little more than I was willing to. They wanted me to share test answers and would give me little signals while the teachers weren’t looking. I found myself being used, and disliking confrontations. I became a pacifist. It must just so much easier to go along with everyone else, so much easier to go move with the wind and not against it. Like everyone else, I was afraid of rejection.

Unlike boys, girls are subtler when it comes to letting you know they don’t like you. And this very subtlety is even more scathing than an outright expression of dislike. I feared getting loathsome glare, the ostracism, and the deliberate loud remark behind your back. I saw it done to others and I didn’t ever want to be on the receiving end of such treatment. So I let things happen even if I didn’t agree with them and kept quiet even when I knew I should’ve spoken up. I lacked in the confidence department. But on the upside, my grades were all right. I adjusted as well as I do.

As year passed, the adviser of the class would tell the parents more or less the same thing. “She’s a really good student…yada yada yada… but she should speak up more” or “She needs to learn to express herself.” I swear the teachers conspired to say then same things. But of course, deep down, I always knew they had a point. By seventh grade, I was tired of it all. I was tired of being a nice girl. I was tired of letting other people have their away while I had to adjust. I was tired of not speaking my mind. It came to the point that I looked at myself in the mirror and I frowned at the girl I saw in the reflection. I couldn’t figure out who she was. And I knew I had to work through the shyness to find out. As trite as it sounds, I resolved that high school would be different.

I exerted a conscious effort to assert myself more. Whenever I felt I was about to lose my nerve, I’d ask myself, “What’s the worst thing that I could happen?” I knew I had something to offer and I wasn’t about to let a snide remark, a patronizing look, or my fear of being ridiculed keep me from reaching my goals. I stopped letting people step all over me. Was it easy? Oh, no. It took some getting used to. I also learned to take my cue from other girls who were more outspoken. I admired their confidence and intelligence and learned from them. In time, I found my own voice and relished being able to use.

I learned that my ideas and opinions were valuable and were appreciated. I gained confidence and learned to get along with different kinds of people without having to let go of my principles. I developed true friendships and shared with them the real me. It just goes to show how a conscious choice to change can really make a difference. I still do get those pangs of shyness and discomfort, but the difference is, I know how to deal with them. I also can’t say I know exactly who the girl in the reflection is. That will take years of experience to figure out. But you could say I have a better idea of who I am.

Just recently, I looked at myself in the mirror and found my reflection smiling back at me. I like the person I am today.

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