The Art of Asserting Yourself
Think of your early twenties as a learning curve. This is the time where your biggest priority should be shaping yourself as a person, and a significant part of that is learning how to prioritize what is important to you, as well as knowing how to make that clear to yourself and to others. In other words, there’s no time like the present to start figuring out who you are and what you want in life, as well as where you stand now and how to affirm that.
Rule #1: Stop holding yourself back. Don’t be afraid to say what you think or feel in a given situation, and above all don’t be afraid if that’s different from what others around you may think or feel. Though I am far from a shy person, it’s taken me years of biting my tongue and swallowing certain opinions at certain times to realize that it’s not worth it. If you’re not going to say what’s on your mind, then who will? (Oh, the irony: that this is exactly how my writing this article came about…)
Rule #2: Weird is the new cool. I don’t know about you, but I find the idea of normalcy to be impossibly boring. Maybe it comes with the territory of living in San Francisco (arguably one of the wackiest cities in the U.S.), but I often find myself turning to my own sense of individuality and quirkiness as the end-all, be-all salvation to boredom. Look around you: do you want to be just another person melting into the crowd, or the one to stand out? In the end, it’s your decision. And as I said, I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be weird than boring.
Rule #3: Finish what you started. Part of the art of assertion — as well as what many may see as the inherent problem with it — is that once you say something aloud, you’ve essentially made a promise that you’ll do it. Now, you are responsible. You must actually go about putting it into practice. For most people, including myself, that’s the hardest part. I mean, hey, we’re in college, right? Procrastination is the norm. The only issue with that mode of thinking is that it prevents you from getting things done.
Rule #4: It’s okay to be wrong sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up over it, whether you are to blame or not. Mistakes happen — all we can do is learn from them, and try to take that with us in whatever else we may endeavor to do. So if you’re wrong about something, do what you can to fix it or make amends. But don’t waste your time if you can’t; learn what you can from your mistake, and move on.
Rule #5: Know the right time to speak up. I know I just wrote this entire article glorifying the art of doing so, but remember that there is a right time and a wrong time to do so. The beauty of this balancing act is that when you do speak up, you know that people will listen. And in the end, isn’t that the point?
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