The Silence Breakers: This Is What Happened When I Stood Up for Myself in 2017

When I saw who TIME named Person of the Year and then read the article and watched the video, I cried a puddle of happy tears.

At the turn of the 2017 new year, I vowed that I would start standing up for myself. It has not been easy, but it has been worthwhile.

I have a tendency to let people walk all over me or to turn the other cheek way too many times. I am the first to stand up for others but the last to stand up for myself. This is because I’m a peaceful person who sees the good in everyone, but those traits have also been my downfall. Like every year before it, 2017 has been a year of change and growth.

Standing up for yourself doesn’t have to mean throwing daggers. I started off the year by negotiating the crap out of an unexpected rent increase, presenting a professional and well-informed counter-proposal. In the past, I would have just whined and written bigger checks, but I work damn hard for little money and I’m a good tenant. It was a learning curve for me to acknowledge to myself that I could negotiate, and to realize that the worst I could hear back was no.

This newfound courage carried over into my professional and personal lives, and for once, I was respectfully fighting for myself with dignity and grace. It ruffled some edges, because it’s admittedly a shock to witness me, once someone who would roll over, now engaging in confrontation to protect myself. But those who stuck with me are the ones who value my own self-worth, and they’re the people I want in my life.

And of course, the biggest and most meaningful way I stood up for myself this year was in breaking my silence by not keeping my sexual assault a secret any longer. I’d been working up the healing to share my story for the better part of a year, and, coincidentally, I was ready around the time that the #MeToo movement began taking off.

We live in days filled with so much terror, hate, confusion, and fear. Imagine how much love and prosperity we could generate if we enabled ourselves to nobly stand up for what is right and just?

TIME Magazine did right by naming The Silence Breakers as Person of the Year. We are in the midst of a cultural revolution chasing inherent human dignity, for women, for gays, for blacks, for Muslims, for the handicapped, for the poor, for everyone. The movement starts within you.

Be the spark that starts the fire. Be Bold. Be Brave. Be You.

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