I don't want to fight. But I will.
I'm shy. An introvert. Quiet. Gentle. Sweet. In fact, when people describe me, the most common adjectives I've heard are "cute" and "nice."
The older I get, the more I abhor being described by these words. I've learned where "cute" and "nice" get you. As a young woman, I was a walking target. Classmates sexually harassed me, teachers insulted, terrorized and/or sexually intimidated me, and even friends weren't afraid to insult or hurt me in order to get back power when they'd lost theirs.
As I became an adult, I struggled constantly with trying to identify the line. Where exactly does one cross over into bullying, harassing, or just plain being a rude jerk-face?
I never knew the answer to that. I still don't.
I am usually alerted to this by the feeling I get - that feeling we all know so well of getting our feathers ruffled. That "Whoa, what just happened there?" feeling.
But is this a trigger?, I have wondered. Am I being triggered by something I need to learn and grow through or did someone actually wrong me?
Seriously, I still don't know the answer to that question, and by now, I'm all too used to assuming I'm the one in the wrong.
It seems like there's something in the air, lately, though, that either has me feeling "triggered" almost all the time…or there's just a spate of bad behavior going on. It seems like (particularly at work), I've been judged, intimidated, and even insulted dozens of times a week these past few months. And most of all, I've been criticized over and over, by many different people, for "not being strong enough."
Let me be very clear here that their definition of "strong" includes being loud, pushy, and aggressive. Three qualities that I just do not have and have no desire to cultivate. I don't want to be "strong" like that. I don't want to change who I am or adopt more masculine qualities* in order to appease the feminists at work who think this is what it takes to be a strong woman.
If they only knew what it was like to be this quiet and this gentle in the world we live in. It takes a hell of a lot of strength to be kind, compassionate, and patient. It takes a hell of a lot of strength to be soft in a world so goddamn hard.
I don't want to be like them. I don't want to keep my dukes up all day long. I don't want to fight back.
I am not afraid of the Big Bad Wolf. I am the Big Bad Wolf.
But at the same time, I'm at the end of my rope. I'm tired of defending myself or ignoring rude, aggressive behavior. There is a part of me, reluctant as it is, that is ready to draw the lines around my territory and stand guard, knives, guns, and landmines at the ready.
This is my turf. This is my personality. This is my soul. Go find someone else to bully.
I am drawing on my wild canine totem for this, my she-wolf. I am ready to growl, lunge, and take down anyone who tries to out-alpha me in my own territory.
Just before I sat down to write this, I drew one of those lines. Hard. It was risky and I still don’t know what the fallout will be. I guess when two alphas fight, there's no telling who will win.
But I say again: This is my territory. This is my soul. So if I go down, at least I went down standing up for the one thing worth fighting for.
*Please note that I do not mean to perpetuate any gender stereotypes here. I am talking about the traditional associations of masculine and feminine energy, which may or may not have anything to do with a person and/or their gender.