“You Aren’t Assertive Enough”

I was asked by my co-worker to do respite care with her 10 year old son. She chose me because she said I was “super nice” and “really genuine.” She said I care very much about people and am so “kind” to her and others.

Hmm. The contrast between the way I feel about myself and the way she (or other people) view me is huge.  Sometimes I present as being nice and supportive and patient but on the inside I feel super angry or super like “hurry the fuck up.”

I’ve always wondered if this makes me a good or bad person. Am I a good person because I am trying to make the other person feel comfortable and relaxed and feel good? Or am I a bad person because in my head I am thinking, “you are an idiot.”

I used to always believe the former. I felt terrible about myself. I felt like “good” people do good AND think good. Since I am having terrible thoughts about you, I must be terrible.

My boyfriend told me this is why I have so many problems. I fight “nature.” I should just allow myself to think these thoughts because they come naturally. The battle with myself against these thoughts is what causes me so much distress.

Just recently, I have let myself believe that it’s not the thoughts we have but our actions that make us good or bad.  I can accept the thoughts that I have and then choose to act on them or not.

Anyways, back to my co-worker’s son. The first time I looked after him we played nerf guns for 4 hours straight. He told me I was “the best babysitter ever.” I knew this was because we didn’t have to make conversation. I thought once he knew me he would hate me. I’m so insecure that I don’t even believe I can get a 10 year old to like me.

The next time I met with him I didn’t have a plan. I brought over board games but I guess they were all “sooooo boring.” All he wanted was his iPad. He kept asking what time it was and said he wished his parent’s would come home.

I literally felt bad about myself for the rest of the night. Because a 10 year old called me boring.

Why can’t I talk to people? I’ve accepted I feel awkward talking to adults but you’d think I’d be able to handle talking to a kid. They aren’t as smart as me. They haven’t had the time to develop their social skills. They don’t have as much life experience. If only he knew my constant yawning was fake and it was just so that he would think I was tired, not boring.

This has been my defence mechanism my whole entire life. If I act tired, people will think I am just tired and not uninteresting. I think I got away with it but it wasn’t enjoyable for me. I felt anxious and boring the entire time I put on that act.

This is why I want to change. I want to be able to have awesome conversations with my kids. I want to give advice and be insightful and wise. I want to be awesome and funny and close and have my kids love and hug me their whole entire lives. I don’t have kids yet FYI.

I want them though. I just want to be healthy both physically and mentally so I can raise healthy kids. I don’t want my kids to have a continual battle with themselves like me. I want to be able to teach them meaningful life lessons.

Back to the kid. We went to a private park that the family has a membership at. There are two skating rinks. One for leisure skate and one for hockey. I chose to stay on the upper rink while the kid went down to play hockey. I can’t stop on skates otherwise I would have went with him.

Partly an excuse, partly truth. The “excuse” part was that I didn’t want to look dumb. I sometimes don’t participate in things because of this fear. The average person wouldn’t even think about looking dumb because they would be looking forward to having fun. Not thinking about how they look to other people that they don’t even know and probably won’t ever see again.

About an hour later, I look over at the hockey rink and there is no one on the ice. I look over to the clubhouse and the kid is walking inside with two other kids behind him. He walks right into the staff office.

I quickly went inside and these kids had flashed him and swore at him while they were on the ice. It turns out, these kids had bullied my kid many times before.

I asked him why he didn’t tell me these kids were here and he said, “I don’t tell on people who haven’t done anything wrong.” Little kid with an old soul.

I asked him why he hadn’t told me they flashed him. He said, “you aren’t assertive enough. I didn’t think you’d give them as much trouble as the staff would.”

Ugh, even a 10 year old kid can read me like a book. I thought I was hiding my anxiety around him but he knew who I was right away. I hate that I’m not assertive. I hate that I can’t tell someone I don’t agree with them. I just go along with it and get mad at them in my head.

This kid was right. If he would have told me first, I probably would have nicely told the kids not to do that. Not wanting any of them to hate me. I put so much value in that. People liking me.

I just recently read an article on parenting. Okay, I read the title of the article and saved the actual article to read later. It was something along the lines of “whatever happened to being a parent to your kid and not a friend?”

I literally try to be a friend to everyone even if in some situations this is not appropriate. My DBT book teaches interpersonal effectiveness, which includes learning assertiveness. I haven’t gotten to that part yet.

The staff member gave the kids shit but also gave them a little speech about life. I would have never been able to do that. But I’ve always wanted to. I want to be able to be assertive and confident but leave everybody feeling better. Pass on some wisdom.

I quit that “job.” It was kind of a kick in the stomach to learn what the kid thought about me. I was boring and not self-assured enough to deal with a serious situation.

My plan is to gain confidence and gain more wisdom by actually going out and living life. Once I do this, hopefully I can become the person I want to be.

I work at a facility where I interact with kids often. Some kids are loud and funny. Some kids are really good conversationalists. Some kids shock me with their insight.

I see these kids and I think, “I wish I was able to do that. I wish I was you. You are going to turn out to be one cool person.”

Is that weird? 30 year old me wants to be an 8 year old because I am imagining the person they will become and wishing that I became that?

I do that with young adults too. I see girls who have so much confidence in themselves and their voice and I wish I could be like them. How can they, at 20 years old, be more of a confident woman than me at 30 years old?

I just don’t think I have the ability to become that. I want to. I spend so much time trying to be someone else. Trying to become my idea of the “ideal person” and not actually letting myself become who I am.

Maybe I’m not meant to be outwardly confident. Maybe my life is better spent being shy and humble. Maybe I wouldn’t connect as easily with the people I need to if I was an outspoken and assertive woman. Maybe my demeanour allows me to help others at my nursing job and beyond because I am quiet and calm.

I guess this requires more analyzing. For now, I plan to just be.



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