Well, I’m home from WorldCon, at which I got to spend time with old friends and make new ones. And now I’m exhausted and sick and all I really want to do is take a nap, watch some Desperate Housewives, and read Zelazny. So this essay is going to be short and to-the-point.
Robert Barnes shared this quotation by Mohandas Gandhi on Google+ the other day:
A “No” uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a “Yes” merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.
I have spent most of my life trying to avoid trouble. Sometimes I have done this by saying yes when I don’t mean it; sometimes I have done it by saying no to myself. Sometimes I do both at the same time. I think this idea cuts to the core of what it means to be a people pleaser. We want to please people, yes, but even more we want to avoid trouble, or conflict, or rocking the boat. Even when we might be willing to say “No” on behalf of others, we’re not necessarily willing to do the same for ourselves.
What I am coming to realize is that conflict isn’t always inherently bad, even on an interpersonal level. It can bring about much-needed change; it can allow us to finally find our voices. It can open up channels of communication, help us discover and create new opportunities, and allow us to stand up for ourselves when we’re being treated poorly.
Granted, I usually find conflict to be very taxing and stressful. But my negative experience of conflict doesn’t mean it’s not necessary or important. In fact, in my experience, the important things in life are usually difficult at least some of the time.
So nowadays, I am trying to remember to ask myself this question: am I doing something because I want to avoid causing trouble, or am I doing something because I truly believe it is the right thing to do?
In elementary school, there were the good kids and the troublemakers. I was always one of the good kids. I got my name put up on the board one time in second grade, and I thought I was going to die. I followed every rule as best as I was able. I did all my homework. I raised my hand before I spoke.
Who knew that one day I would be doing my best to join the troublemakers?