(ON TOPIC) Speaking Up: “Yo Miss Prada. Get yo stinkin’ purse off my seat.”

So I have this document on my desktop where I write ideas for future blog posts. I found one today that was already written. Apparently I was really angry after riding the bus to New York one day…

Let me set a scene for you: I’m on the bus back from New York City and the women next to me feels the need to claim not only her seat, but also a generous part of my seat for her precious Prada. Add to this her incessant phone conversation and her plump right arm, which rested undesirably on my left arm while she spread out for a royal slumber.

My question for you, dear reader(s) is the following: In situations such as these, do you speak up for yourself?

In talking to friends and family, the most common answer was, “I’d think about it but ultimately wouldn’t say anything.” And this makes sense because speaking up is totally easier said than done. Why? Because we care about what other people think about us. We just do. Do you really want to be perceived as—for lack of a better word—a bitch to those around you? I’ve always been envious of people who, without hesitation, would tell this woman to get off her phone. But are those people inconsiderate, or just highly confident? In other words, I think worthiness is also at the root here. Do you feel worthy of respect from those around?

Case Study #1: Shushing at the movies. Shushing is passive-aggressive and inefficient. We’ve all seen shushing lead to even louder shushing and then to whispering and then to actual screaming. Instead of diffusing the situation, you’ve actually turned into a massive prick and made the problem a lot worse. So what’s the solution? I say skip the shushing and whisper politely in the person’s ear to be quiet. And if they don’t respond favorably (in this case, by being quiet), slap them. At least you’ve made an effort to remedy the problem! Reward yourself with two Sourpatch Kids.

Case Study #2: An experience I had in my brother’s class in China tackles this issue from a different/more serious angle. Adam set the kids up in a mock debate situation, turned the clock on, and said, “Debate.” But here’s the thing: They didn’t know how to do it! As he explained to me after, their cultural tendency toward in-group harmony may have been at the root of the struggle. They needed reassurance that it was okay to argue with one another in the comfort of this classroom setting. It seems like they didn’t view themselves as entirely worthy of both holding and then expressing their own beliefs.

The message here is simple: Speak up. Everyone deserves to be heard and treated fairly. There was a man who sat next to me on the plane to China who constantly fell asleep on my shoulder, but I was different back then and regrettably kept my mouth shut. Now I can’t help but wish I could go back in time to tell him what I was really thinking up in my brain place:

“Excuse me. Sir? Yes you. Could you please get your PUNGENT HEAD OFF MY SHOULDER! Also, I see you’re reading Harry Potter? He dies in the end. Enjoy!”


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