"To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves - there lies the great, singular power of self-respect." ~Joan Didion
I went through a terrible phase of being the weakest link. I was the girl who was teased and called names. I was too black or not black enough. I was chubby. I was the girl everyone disliked yet I continued to make overtures to please those who wanted for me to simply disappear. Offerings were made if only to get me a seat a certain table or to have a certain person utter three words to me. If there is one thing I remember from the mid-90’s it’s that being a perpetual people pleaser will bring you nothing but ridicule. There was a quick turnaround come high school when I decided to be mean, nasty, angry, sometimes menacing. For what exactly? To prove that I wasn’t someone for my peers to walk upon or to prove that I could be just as mean as the others.
Thankfully, I’ve settled into a happy-ish place but it took until well into my 20’s to sincerely believe that expressing my opinion will not end in disaster. I’m aware of my limitations and abilities which allows me to speak up. Of course people think I’m scary, mean, bitchy and...wait for it...BOSSY. What I deem to be hard earned assertiveness, others took the wrong way. I am not going to stop talking simply because others are uncomfortable. Furthermore it took my entire life to grow a pair and get a backbone. Why on earth would I quit now?
‘Bossy’ is the word du jour thanks to Sheryl Sandberg who, when not running Facebook, is telling women how to feel and think in order to be taken seriously or to achieve her vision of success. Never mind the sheer awfulness of attempting to mold young women and girls into one’s own idea of what they should be though I have to wonder if I’m the only one who hears these stories and thinks ick.
The word 'bossy' is now some sort of pejorative to describe and demean young women and girls. It's also something I haven't thought much about until today. Why can't we simply take back the word without a massive campaign to have ti removed from our lexicon? When someone points out that I'm intimidating (or anything synonymous to 'bossy'), I don't cower and question my behaviors. I smile because I am. I used to be the person who others ignored and it took everything out of me to attain some semblance of self-acceptance. I want to be someone who others listen to and I hope that if I ever have daughters, I am able to instill the same confidence in them. There are plenty of things preventing younger generations from leading, I disagree that being referred to as 'bossy' is one of those things. Instead teach your daughters (nieces/friends' kids) to say 'thank you'. If you are that child's parent, give yourself a pat on the back for doing such becuase you are soon to have a strong woman.