I don’t like conflict. That’s probably also the opinion of the majority of people on the planet; not many people take pleasure in having conflict with their friends or significant others.
However, my problem is a bit deeper than that. I am someone that wants everyone else to be happy and will do so at the expense of my own happiness. It’s a problem that has existed for a while now; I found it was easier sometimes to just repeatedly apologize and agree with what someone said rather than to stick up for myself and cause more problems. For someone that normally had a record for not letting anyone take me down, I somehow ended up here.
Is it selfish to silence your opinion because you want to still be in good graces with your friends? Is it selfish to constantly want your friends to be happy with you all the time? I’m not sure, but it definitely sounds that way when I really sit and think about it.
My best friend recently told me something eye opening. “I just need you to realize that you can’t make everyone happy,” she said, “and sometimes trying to make everyone happy ends up hurting other people.”
That statement hit me like a train wreck. What I was doing, that I thought was helping avoid conflict with my friends, was actually hurting them instead. I hurt people all the time, and without realizing it. Another best friend of mine was extremely hurt when I didn’t ask more questions about the man she was seeing. I had no idea; I thought I had asked questions and expressed interest. I didn’t realize I hadn’t done enough, because I had done what I thought was enough in the moment. My go-to tactic of pleasing others was somehow falling apart, and now I was in the situation I never want to be in: a misunderstanding, AKA conflict. It was sickening to me.
So how do we, those that want to keep others happy at any cost, still stay true to who we are? How do we remember that we have a voice? I have no problem writing about my opinions, and voicing opinions in a classroom, or to a professor, but when it comes to the friends I consider family, I clam up. It takes steps to do the opposite. And the first step, I think, is admitting to yourself that you can’t make everyone happy. No matter how many “I’m sorry’s” you say.
We have to start small. It’s not going to be an overnight change. But maybe, just maybe, we can find little places every day to start sharing our opinions, knowing that the feedback might not be positive. What are the rest of the steps? I couldn’t tell you. I’ve only recently gotten through the first step. I am still trying to find small ways to gain my voice back, and it will take me a while.
To those that feel the same as me: it’s going to take time. But one day, we will have that confidence back.