Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Are You a Bitch?

Have you ever been called a "bitch"?

I hate that word, because it's too often applied to pretty much any woman, across the board, who is outgoing, outspoken, or opinionated--regardless of how they conduct themselves. It seems there is a black and white spectrum here. But where is the variation? All of us have a bit of "bitch" in us. I think it's important, though, not to confuse an honest voice with a bitchy one. Strength of character and the courage to stand up for yourself and others is never a bad trait. It just makes some people very uncomfortable. ;)

When I was a little girl, the kids in school used to call me "Mother Theresa" or "Sister Jennifer" because I was the most mild-mannered, well behaved kid you could imagine. I never wanted to fight with anyone and I hurt for the kids around me who were bullied or picked on. I just wish I'd had the guts to stand up for them more.

I guess that's what adulthood is for, huh? The years when you're supposed to be brave enough to stand up for people--yourself included. It can be scary when you discover that not everyone is going to like your truth, though. That infamous day when you discover that *gasp* someone doesn't like you! *smirk* Tough to get used to.

I've discovered that, the more comfortable I am in speaking up for myself and others, (respectful though I am), the more pissed off people become. In fact, it really knocks some folks off their rocker. Especially if they aren't used to complete authenticity in communication. Especially if they're clearly used to being a bully.

Maybe the Portuguese/Italian/German/Irish in me is finally kicking in, but I don't have quite as much of a stomach for immaturity or judgment as I used to. More and more I understand who I am, what I want, what I stand for and what I do not stand for--and for some reason, I'm not so afraid to say it anymore. I'm also having a harder time with people who practice any sort of mental hierarchy, as I realize that no one is more or less equal to anyone else, no matter their economic or educational station, and so I don't behave as if they are. Again, this irks some folks, but it seems just plain silly that it should. If you know yourself and you grasp the value in every person, there's no need to bully people or carry grudges or mistreat others. There's a point where you're supposed to move past high school and enter enlightenment, right? Honest, heart-felt communication and then resolution seems like a pleasant counter to storming up and going off on someone, only to run away before they can say their piece. Why is this so hard?

I wish I could reach down into every frightened person's dark place and offer them a hand, say, "Hey, love, what are you hiding from? Come on up here and don't let anyone put you down." But I've also figured out that learning to stand up for yourself and believe in yourself is a very personal journey, one that often comes of getting just plain fed up with the bull. You can't really do this for anyone else. You can only do it for yourself. But you can continue to speak your truth and follow your heart, even if you think someone will resent you for it.

It's hard to reconcile that not everyone will like you. It's especially hard for me, because, for a very long time, everyone always did--either that or they didn't notice me--or they took advantage of me. It was a surefire sign that I wasn't quite there yet. I was still hiding from my truth.

Are you?

It's interesting to watch my life unravel and observe, from almost a bystander's perspective, the changes in my level of guts. It's like my passion ratio raises with every year that goes by. There are days when I think back to the timid little girl I was and think that I could never, ever go back to that. I wouldn't want to cage myself up again. The goal is to conquer fear... not otherwise. And every day I try to summon my inner strength, because every day I come across an instance where I need it.

Balance, balance, balance. First shyness, then passionate boldness, then the middle ground. I guess that's the ultimate goal.

For all my supposed "bitches" out there, who really just speak their heart-felt truth in all things, God bless you. It takes a lot of courage, but I suspect the rewards are great.

Talk to you soon,


naelany said...

To answer your opening question: yes. Or rather, I can be. I know I can be. A complete and utter bitch. Surprise you? Probably, because it's not what most people perceive me to be.

However, it takes quite a bit for me to get my bitch on, so to speak. But when I do, oh boy, will people know it.

Most of the time, though, people will perceive me to be a bitch when I am in fact blunt and forthright and unafraid to pull punches.

Like you, I never spoke up much when I was growing up. Actually, no, I did speak up, but it never mattered because all that ended up happening was me being bullied even more. I never did agree with standing by and watching someone else be bullied, though, so I usually tried to intervene in some fashion.

Like you, I used to be very shy. Still am, in many respects. The internet's been a wonder for allowing me to reach out more, though in truth, I started to do so before I got online, too. Just... slower and much more timid.

I think, the over all opinion people have of me is of someone quiet, mild, friendly. While I am that, I definitely have the bitch in me too, and I'm not afraid to let her out of her cage now and again ;-)

Jen said...

You know, my dear, that is precisely what I mean. You're going through an evolution, which is cool. But you're also naturally zen, it seems, so you don't just go off on everyone all the time. Again, the difference between behaving in a bitchy way and standing up for yourself. I'm glad when I see people (myself included) acknowledging that they can choose to be strong and proud and confident. A lot of us women were kind of trained to be doormats. I say to hell with doormats. We can be peaceful, loving people in union with our strength and voices, right?


Jennifer Lane said...

Great post, Jen. When I was a kid, I was such a people pleaser, and I would have been horrified to be called a bitch. I still battle with being completely authentic, but now I think being called a bitch is somewhat of a compliment!

Nicki Elson said...

Righteous indignation is a beautiful thing. :)

And let's see...last week I took a Which Disney Character Are You Quiz and got Maleficent, so I'd say I've reached an age where I'm embracing the inner so-called bitch. But even better, afterward my mum and sister bought me a Maleficent mug that said "You are wickedly awesome" - so some fabulous people know how to appreciate a little righteous indig. ;)

Debra Anastasia said...

I can't wait for the wisdom I'm supposed to get with age. So far nothing, but I can grow a chin hair like a beast.

Cherie Colyer said...

I'd like to think I keep the bitch in me locked down, or maybe carefully hidden. I wonder if others think the same thing. Maybe I should ask a few of my friends.

Jennifer Lane said...

Hope you released your inner bitch for your audition, Jen!