Say what you mean
By: Grace Bocking
As a perpetually shy individual who also happens to loath conflict, clear communication is not one of my strong suits. I cannot begin to list the number of times I have been unable to properly communicate my feelings or opinions because I’ve been terrified of what could follow. What if people get mad at me? What if they disagree? What if they think I’m stupid? These nightmarish scenarios have played through my head like reruns of Friends, and they’ve prevented me from saying the things that I really wanted to.
In a society that teaches us to filter ourselves and be reserved in groups, speaking with honesty and conviction isn’t easy. It’s fear that often stands in my way, but others fear judgement, can’t find the right words, or are simply avoiding confrontation.
Recently, this pattern of refusing to assert myself has become more troubling to me. I realized that by not saying what I mean or meaning what I say, I have been keeping those around me at an arm’s length. Friends, family, and roommates have all been kept in the dark. Not only is this isolating, but it has prevented me from strengthening relationships that I value. Many of those closest to me don’t know what’s on my mind, and therefore don’t truly know me.
What’s more is that by refusing to share my views and feelings, I have been diminishing their importance. By shaping myself in to the agreeable person that I believe others want me to be, I have been able to avoid conflict. However, I have also been telling myself and the world that the way I see things isn’t important and that my opinions aren’t as valid as of everyone else’s. I am a plain doormat than no one would pay attention to.
This isn’t to say that I should be blunt or rude in my conversations with others; just that I should eliminate some of the fluff and lip service I give. Being genuine makes you an interesting person, whereas avoiding conflict by saying common and agreeable statements just makes you that nice, albeit bland and uninteresting, person.
What I am beginning to learn is that while holding your tongue may temporarily delay a confrontation or an awkward conversation, it is neither a good nor lasting solution. It only prolongs your suffering. I know just how difficult it can be to speak your mind, but I have found that honesty always improves the situation. People won’t know you’re upset unless you tell them, and hiding up your feelings will only make you feel trapped.
Intentionally misleading the people in your life is never the right answer. If we would all commit to saying what we mean and meaning what we say, many misunderstandings would be avoided. Though ripped straight from an afterschool special, honesty truly is the best policy.