Remember this article where I posted snippets of drafts I never finished writing? Well, here is one of those drafts, all fleshed out, ready to go. Enjoy!
Not long ago, I had a revelation: I wasn't practicing what I was preaching. I was telling you guys here that you must demand the best for yourself. That you must train people to treat you a certain way. That you must not put up with shit. And I was not living that principle.
I was playing games, being dumb, allowing shitty things to happen to me, putting up with shitty behavior, allowing others to chip away at pieces of me I treasured and valued. I was giving up my high ground, one inch at a time, and all because I thought I needed to conform to a certain standard so people would like me.
But the thing is, I firmly believe that we train people to treat us a certain way. The old "give an inch" principle. If you allow someone to get away with something you wouldn't normally put up with because:
a) You're getting a little attention
b) You think it'll make someone like you more
c) You're hoping to get laid
d) All of the above
...then, believe me, things will not end well, because in general, people don't like the rules being changed in the middle of the game (in this case, "the rules" being that you allowed someone to treat you like a doormat in the beginning, and then tried to stand up for yourself later. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work like that).
So how does one demand the best for oneself? (<--Erg, most awkward sentence ever.) I subscribe to two main principles and one sub-principle:
Be Authentic (Be you, no matter what)
When you know who you are (and better yet, truly understand who you are not) it's a lot harder to put yourself in a situation where someone can (intentionally or unintentionally) treat you like shit. Which leads me to...
Don't put up with shit that doesn't make you feel like you
Here's a little lesson I learned a few years ago: I don't have to do that shot. No really. I don't have to. I don't care whose birthday it is or how much you paid for it. I will probably not say yes. Sorry.
You see, I have a little problem with vodka. It makes me do and say horrible, awful things. And the bad thing is, I rarely remember these horrible, awful things, because I've blacked out. I get completely out of control and I'm not me. So, after one terrible experience too many, I say no. I don't care if it hurts someone's feelings, or if someone wastes their money, I won't do it.
Obviously, the above example is a little ridiculous...we should all know our limits and not binge drink, amiright? I will tell you, however, that learning this lesson was like a little revelation for me and it filtered into many, many other parts of my life:
- In dating, I have very little patience for the dude who wants to play games
- In my work, I don't usually end up working with the wishy-washy potential client.
- In my life, I ignore backhanded compliments, and distance myself from those "friends" who have trouble keeping my confidence.
Because putting up with that nonsense because I think I want a date, or a gig, or companionship? Not worth it if these people will end up chopping away at the core of who I am.
And now onto...
Sub-principle numero uno:
Don't be a jerk
We all know those people who are COMPLETE ASSHOLES and then justify their asshole-ishenss by saying, "Well, that's just the way I am." My thing is, you can probably figure out a way to be true to yourself without offending every child, old woman, and pony in a fifty mile radius. So even if someone has offended me, or isn't treating me the way I should be treated, I'm not going to be rude*. Or at least, I'm going to try super, super hard not to be rude (though I have been known to slap if you get too handsy).
In summary, if you know who you are, and if you refuse to allow people to make you feel less than who you are, AND if you try your best to not be a jerk, you'll find that you're demanding the best for yourself without really being demanding at all. You just...are.
And that, friends, is some good shit.
*Coming soon, a post on how I try to approach people when they're being asses.