I’m a firm believer in standing up for what is right. While you and I, dear reader, may have different opinions about what is exactly right, I will always support equality among all people, the environment and affordable healthcare. I have participated in marches and protests. I volunteer. I raise my voice and spirit for others. I stand up for everything but myself.

My coworker pointed out my lack of a backbone the other day. I’m the “new girl” at work and have been picked on a bit. While it’s petty, I know that my coworkers are testing my limits and are curious to see what breaks me. I try my best to ignore their teasing and the gossip behind my back but it stings. No one wants to be belittled at their job, especially when they’re still learning about the role and the company. However, a large part of me wants to beat them at their own game and be rude back. I won’t be- I’m going to take the higher road and do the best that I can do at my time there. But I still need to stand up for myself. I just not sure how to go about doing so…

A work place should provide a healthy environment where everyone works together towards a greater good.  Easier said than done, especially when multiple personalities and feelings are involved. There’s jealously, imposter syndrome and apathy from all parties. In the past, I was so eager to people to like me that I would agree to do anything for them. That learned behavior has been damaging and made me a bit of a pushover. It’s nice to be nice but I was being passive. I trained my coworkers (and anyone else watching and listening) that it’s okay to take advantage of me. So, I started with saying “no” at some instances. That word is tiny yet powerful. I made sure to stand my ground when it left my lips even if I felt awkward saying it- If I’m out of my comfort zone, they can be too.

But what if you advocate for yourself a little too much? At one of my previous roles, I wasn’t given the raise that I thought that I deserved after my yearly review. I talked to my supervisor about the good work that I did for the company and local stats about the increasing cost of living. Long story short: I didn’t get the money. I thought that I was being assertive, not aggressive. I was unemotional and brought forth facts. But there were other things that I didn’t consider. Timing. People have the right to disagree and stand up for their own interests. The company’s budget. Perhaps I should have negotiated better.  Still, at the end of the day, I asked for what I wanted. I saw my worth and asked to be compensated for it.

Being easygoing and likable can get you a long way but it’s not enough just to be liked. You’ll also need to be respected. No one has the authority to invalidate you- including yourself. How do you stand up for yourself, dear reader?

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