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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Personal growth

So I am a nonconfrontational person. People can sense that, I'm sure, which leads me to get disrespected and taken advantage of quite a bit. This typically happens in the very situations where I excel: being a social worker, in which I treat people with a great deal of respect (it's not as though I believe I am automatically accorded respect because of my position or whatnot. It's more that I expect respect given should be reciprocated by at least treating me like a human being). It's always odd to me, a shock to my system, to be awarded blatant disrespect at moments like that. I never know how to deal with it in the moment because I'm so surprised, thus I think people get away with a lot more than they should. It's often hard to address rudeness and disrespect when it seems like I've been accepting the treatment for a while--thus becoming the norm.

And I hate hate hate that this is the thing I am worried about. It strikes me as being an extremely negative, cynical, and perhaps even dangerous way to approach my work.

But I also hate my lack of assertiveness. I get seriously down on myself at times because of this (what I consider) personality "flaw." It occurs to me occasionally that my kind, gentle nature and willingness to believe the best of people should be an asset to social work! But I get hung up on the negatives.

However, I think I need to be easier on myself. Continual self-reflection, I suppose, is a good thing. And if I think more deeply about it, I guess I can see where I am taking steps towards changing (albeit small, but hey! Still growth!).

Evidenced by this: an instance of extreme rudeness, three or four consecutive interchanges where I could feel the anger emanating off of someone in waves, directed at me for a reason I couldn't fathom. Dealing with that--and her--made me feel like I was kicked in the stomach. I thought about the anxiety that would result in me addressing it, compared to the anxiety of not. I remembered in Alabama, how being treated like that without sticking up for myself would tear away at my self-esteem until I hated myself so much, I believed I was worthy of the awful treatment I received. So after the next instance of rudeness, I stopped, took a deep breath, and said, "You don't have to like me. You do have to respect me and the rules I have to uphold." It was not exactly the phrasing I had wanted, but still. I said something! I stood up for myself! And it led to a conversation that cleared the air and restored a relationship. I really do believe that this particular woman respects me more for speaking up than for cowering under her rudeness. Since then, I have felt more confident addressing necessary things with her when they come up.

It seems like a little thing, and for a lot of people, it probably is. But for me, wow. Huge. I was just so proud of myself! I never would have had the nerve to say anything like that in Alabama (aka, my first experience as a real social worker). I just have to remember that when I think I'm not growing and improving at all.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

you go el! kt

4:10 PM  

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