What Do You Have to Lose?

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Crimes to the Third Degree.

We were discussing fear today, this friend and I. Then tonight, my elder daughter and I talked about training, about how I’ve been trained to be a certain way all my life.

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The consensus was that I’ve burst through many of the fears and that I’ve broken a lot of the training in my upbringing and in society. So why do a few of them still hold me back?

My friend asked me why I hadn’t been able to do a certain thing. She’s understanding, so it’s not a criticism but rather a reminder of something I haven’t looked at (and you’d think eventually, I would have looked at everything…).

I explain, honestly, that I’m trying to strike a balance. I know what I want. I know what I like. How aggressively I might go after it could be off-putting though to the recipients of my assertiveness. So my compassion keeps me from coming on too strong…most of the time. I don’t want people I like to feel pressured or uncomfortable. If I didn’t like them, then coming on too strongly wouldn’t even cross my mind—I’d just do it.

So my friend asked me how I’ve handled similar situations with people in my past, and I tell her. How odd (or not) that up until last year, it was generally all the same. Do nothing in this regard. Don’t be assertive in this regard. Say the right things, the expected things, be nice, be polite, don’t push too hard, don’t be aggressive in this regard, just let things be.

Instead of saying how I want things. Or what I want. Or saying exactly what it is I need.

So now I’m putting it out there, saying what I want, what I need. Going for it. And getting queasy about it.

My friend asked me what I had to lose by being aggressive in everything that I do? She pointed out that doing the right thing, as perceived by society, got me nowhere I wanted to be. Being sweet and quiet and compassionate got me nowhere. Taking care of everybody else got me nowhere.

So, she suggested, if I already know what it takes to get me nowhere, what do I have to lose by going after everything I want?

And if my attitude frightens off partnerships and relationships, then so be it, because the only partners who will support me in getting what I want out of life will be worthy enough not to be scared off by a woman going after what she wants.


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