I’m often the odd-man-out in social situations. I don’t drink, though most of my friends and family do and I do my best to eat little to no sugar, though I fight the urge every single day. These two objectives have nothing to do with anyone else and everything to do with the negative impact they have on my life. But it seems as though someone always has something to say about my choices, making a simple “no thank you” more difficult than it should be. Last night during an evening out with new friends, the inevitable spotlight was turned on me and my choices. One friend said “you’re going to have to stop being the odd man out all the time” to which I responded “you’re going to have to get used to it”. While everyone laughed, I hated that it was being discussed at all. What I really wanted to say was “no thank you, I’d rather not exchange five minutes of sugary bliss for an entire day of headaches, fatigue and depression”. But no one would have laughed and the spotlight that I so badly wanted turned away from me would have only grown larger.
The moment passed, as it always does but will no doubt happen again. While I have yet to craft the perfect response to these uncomfortable moments, I realized something last night. If I don’t stick up for myself, who will? No one else but me is responsible for or expected to honor my goals and my choices. It’s taken me years to find the strength to honor myself rather than let social settings derail what I know is best for me. In the past, when everyone else was partaking and delighting in treats and alcohol, I felt like I deserved to be part of the fun. It is not a natural reaction to act the opposite of the group in a group setting. We all want to be and feel included. But we are all still individuals making choices that affect us on a singular basis. What I finally came to understand was that being a part of the group never felt worth it the next day when I was riddled with depression. The so-called fun I thought I deserved to be a part of was a false bravado. Just because I wasn’t partaking didn’t mean I couldn’t have fun or be fun to be around. My choices had no affect on the overall enjoyment of the evening.
If you believe deeply enough in your choices, if they honor you and your best life, stick up for yourself no matter the comments that come your way. There is a kind of confidence that can be found in being true to who we are and more importantly who we want to be that cannot be taken away from us. Because, at the end of the day, you and only you are the one that has to live with your choices and the resulting internal dialogue when you go to bed at night.
CARE LESS ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK OF YOU AND MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK OF YOURSELF.
The only way to get others to respect your decisions is to start with respecting them yourself.