“Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defines assertiveness as a form of behavior characterized by a confident declaration or affirmation of a statement without need of proof; this affirms the person’s rights or point of view without either aggressively threatening the rights of another (assuming a position of dominance) or submissively permitting another to ignore or deny one’s rights or point of view.”
I have taken a number of classes on interpersonal communication skills, but I am still not very assertive. This has hurt me in a number of areas in my life, but I find myself unable to do much about it. I know what I should do in most situations, but I am not usually able to push myself when I need to respond differently.
Back when I was in the fifth grade, my parents received a letter from the School District inviting me to attend a different school program (sort of a middle school for smart kids). It was to be held at School No. 43 (corners of Mt. Read Boulevard and Lyell Avenue). Being shy and not willing to push myself outside of my comfort zone, I declined. I chose to stay at School No. 38. At around the same time, I was also offered the Guardian of the Flag position if I stayed at No. 38 so I selected that option. I would not have to leave the school that I knew and the environment I was so comfortable with. I knew that I was only offered the Guardian slot because someone else had moved on to No. 43 (I was likely the 2ndor 3rd choice to be Gurardian). That didn’t matter – I was still honored to do it. I also know that most of the kids that did attend the Advanced Placement school were further ahead academically when they returned to the High School setting in the 9th grade. They were the brainiacs – the ones who went on to bigger and better things. So many times in my life I have wondered what I could have become if I had gone to the advanced program. That is one of the few regrets that I have in my life. Why did I take the easy way out?
Deciding to finally get my A.A.S. degree this late in life is certainly a case of “better late than never”. The fact that I am a straight-A student and was recently nominated for the Alpha Beta Gamma Honor Society tells me that if I had asserted myself I could have been much more than a secretary. Work has never been the “be all and end all” for me – it was just a paycheck. If I had pushed myself to get a college education right out of High School, what could I have been?
In various job situations, I have never been good at speaking up for myself. When I left my job years ago and interviewed for a new one, I asked for a $500 raise over my last job. I am sure they were thrilled to pay me that! I found out later that kids right out of business school were starting at that company at higher salaries than I was making, and I had more than 10 years experience at that point. When I left one job and went to another at the same pay scale, why didn’t I negotiate for a third week of vacation? I could have done the same when the offer was made for my current job. I didn’t even ask. I am good at what I do, and I am loyal and reliable and have a lot of experience. Why couldn’t I turn that into a better deal for myself?
If I had been more assertive along the way in life, who would I be today?