I had a discussion with my mom recently about the turmoil that has been my apartment this year. And I’m not hiding that. Anyone who remotely knows me knows that my living situation is a mess. I’d use an expletive but I won’t here.
I live with two other girls, and we each have a single. One is my best friend. She is incredible and won’t be involved in this story too much because she wasn’t involved in the epicenter of what changed the entire dynamic of my sophomore year.
I’m trying to live in the present more. It’s probably the hardest thing for me to do. On a walk to class, I’ll think of 18 different things I want to plan or do, from where I’ll live next year, to my boyfriend’s Valentine’s Day gift, to what I’ll do that evening. I ask what’s for dinner when I’m home at the conclusion of lunch. I always want to know what’s next. Rarely am I in the present, and that is one of my biggest faults.
However, I decided to make it one of my strengths in the situation I’m living in. If I twist my mentality around a bit and think of the distant future, I think of kids, of a family, marriage, and my career. But if I zoom in on those kids that I dream of having one day, I can see maybe a boy, maybe a girl, or maybe some combination. Then I zoom in on that daughter I might have.
I’m a daughter. And in so many moments, not only in college but in high school, I know that my parents have worried for me because of one thing that I also struggle with, and that is standing up for myself.
If there is one thing that I want to be able to tell my future baby girl, it’s that mom knew how to stand up for herself. And right now, if I was forced to look that future child in the eye, I don’t think I could say it.
So I’m on a mission, and writing about it makes it more clear in my mind. But I say I will, and I try, but I never truly let myself transform from the doormat that I have been to the strong door that I should be.
My roommate victimized me this year. And if I hadn’t vocalized it to my family, I would never have said anything about it. But since those who support me have talked me through the aftermath, I have come to realize the magnitude of what I experienced. But through her actions, and how she has always treated me, I have been nothing but a loyal friend and have laughed off her bullying, her lack of kindness, and her utter disregard for my feelings, privacy, and being.
It’s not necessary to detail what happened but it is necessary, to be honest about how I reacted to it. And after being utterly broken immediately following, I moved on and suppressed how I felt. I bottled it up. And I didn’t fight back like I should have. And in that aftermath, she continued to bully, she continued to victimize, and she continued to treat me as her inferior.
And in hearing her yell, watching her hurt me, and watching her lack any regard for how I felt, I was, for the most part quiet. A doormat. Someone to be yelled at. Someone to be bullied. And it infuriates me to write that. It makes me shake with sadness to say that I was the doormat for her to walk all over, and always have been.
I think that as we see the uprising of the #MeToo movement we see a movement that should instill us all with pride. It reveals the nature of a society that we were all afraid to talk about. But what it really reveals is that women are standing up for themselves. Women are speaking up and saying that this isn’t okay.
And I think every woman and girl needs to look at herself in the mirror every morning, as she faces the day, and say, "Did I stand up for what I believe in yesterday?". Did I let someone talk me out of my values? Did I stand up for myself? Or did I ignore the cruelty that so often is our closest friends, neighbors, and workplaces?
Kindness is easy. Being a good person is not difficult. Overreacting is hard. It isn’t commonplace, but we have been conditioned as a society to see emotions that are valid, reactions that are real and honest, and complaints about unfair treatment as overreaction and drama. Cut all of that out of your mind.
Because you aren’t overreacting. When I told my roommate what I thought her actions were, I was told I was overreacting. I wasn’t. I wasn’t being ridiculous, I wasn’t in the wrong. I was a victim. I was bullied. And I wish wholeheartedly that I had stood up stronger for myself.
So I’ll plan on it. Like I plan everything else in my life, I’ll plan my pursuit of being a door and less of a mat. I’ll pursue greatness by way of trusting my intuition when I know kindness isn’t what I’m hearing from someone. I’ll pursue a challenge to those who want to tear me down. And I’ll pursue the story I’ll tell my daughter someday.
“Mommy stood up for herself. She spoke up when something was wrong. I expect you to do the same, every day.”