The other day, one of my son’s friends posted on Facebook that “peer pressure was the worst invention of mankind.” Ironic because, though I’m thirty years older than she, I had to deal with the same issue that day. I chose to “come clean” with some friends about the way I thought our little group was off-track. Not everyone liked it. We teach our children not to yield to peer pressure; and yet, as adults, we do it all the time.
This is especially true for women. We are taught to “go along to get along.” We say things like “that’s okay” when it isn’t. We don’t rock the boat. We don’t make waves. We smile when we feel like screaming. When someone hurts us we rack our brains looking for something WE did wrong to CAUSE the crappy behavior.
Well, I’m not drinking the Kool Aid anymore.
I want to speak up, even if it is scary.
So, I took a big risk and shared with a community of people who are REALLY important to me, that something the group was allowing felt REALLY wrong to me. At its core, my point was that, in order for the group to thrive, we needed to have some loving discipline around some key issues.
In thinking about the action I would take, I considered all sorts of “angles” for approaching the topic. I REALLY wrestled with myself about whether something needed to be said, and, equally, whether I was the person who needed to say it.
What convinced me to speak up is that I NEEDED TO CHANGE.
An old, old, shtick of mine is to CUT AND RUN.
That’s right. Rather than deal with conflict between us – especially if you hurt me – I just remove myself. I might not go away in actuality, but in spirit, I’m just going to “phone it in” from here on out.
I want to change this characteristic of mine. I want to learn to love deeper, become a more intimate friend, family member, partner, and member of the community.
And that means I have to change. So, telling the truth to my group about my feelings rather than just finding a new set of folks to hang out with was a really scary, but important CHANGE on my part.
Change is hard for people, at any age. The status quo is simpler. More relaxed. Less controversial.
But, with great thanks to Master Yoda, “Change you must, or die you will.”
There have been times in my life, where it was WAY too risky to speak up. When I was a single mom supporting three young sons, it wasn’t prudent to narc to Human Resources about the sexual harassment and drug deals going on in my sales office. My kids needed food and shelter. I looked the other way.
But, the older I get, the braver I get. I’m not in charge of righting every wrong in the universe, but sometimes it really, really is UP TO ME, to be the truth-teller in the room – to be the child at the parade who proclaims that “THE EMPEROR IS NAKED.”
What’ really cool is that it is becoming increasingly socially acceptable to speak up. Time magazine recently named The Protestor as the “Person of the Year”.
So, if you needed a little nudge, there you go. It’s in style to speak up and out. To tell your truth. To get more real. To fight back.
I’d love to hear back from you on this one. In what ways have you “spoken up” recently? Are there any places where you’re still too afraid to speak your truth?
Photo: Flickr, wintercool612