The ABCs of Adulthood (Assertiveness, Bullying, and Condescension)

I’m so pissed right now and I can’t explain why.

I’m afraid if I’m openly critical about certain things and the wrong person finds my blog, I’ll get in trouble.

Let’s just say this: I hate condescension. HATE it. I don’t know if there’s anything worse to deal with socially as an adult.

I guess bullying is worse.

Either way, I have the unfortunate tendency to stick up for myself, and it often seems to backfire on me.

My overwhelming need to self advocate stems from eighth grade, when, after months of harassment, I finally lost it and refused to give up my chair to the school bully during study hall, and she ran her mouth for a solid 45 minutes about how “ugly” I was for the entire class to hear. She, herself, was a truck. 18-wheeler.

In any case, the boy I liked, the dark-haired, brown-eyed one who stared, open-mouthed, at me in math class, was in the room, and I felt the urgent need to save face in front of him.

So I lit into her, too. Yup, me. Little, “mute” Leah: “Who do you think you are, Miss Freaking America?”

Twenty two pairs of eyes were on us, now, most accompanied by amused expressions, which just made me angrier.

Stunned for a second, she replied, “Well at least I’m not you, with your red Afro, and your this and your that and your…”

“BITE ME,” I said.

“Where’d you get those shoes,” she said, “Building 19?”

“Go to hell,” I said. And I kept saying it, until she finally backed off or the bell rang.

She was twice my size. I’m lucky I didn’t get my ass whooped after school. But there was never any ass-whooping. In fact, she rarely bothered me again after that, turning her attention to other hapless victims who did not have the guts to tell her to fuck off.

Anyway, since then, when somebody gives me shit, I am powerfully compelled to give it right back. And I did that today. I wasn’t nasty. Just assertive. But I don’t think she liked it.

And when someone who wields a certain degree of power doesn’t like you, you might be in trouble.

But I’m not just going to roll over and take undeserved abuse or admonishment, I’m sorry. I’m getting too old for that.

That’s where assertiveness comes in.

Hopefully, it works for me this time.

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