Yesterday evening while walking the dog, I got heckled by a stranger. I had scolded the stranger for driving too fast down our quiet dead-end road (by way of yelling “SLOW DOWN!” and waving the mail I was clutching in one hand while I tried to keep my small and exuberant dog from getting run over with the other hand). The stranger pulled into the neighbor’s driveway and stood making what I can only assume to be entitled commentary on my physique while I made my way up the road toward where he was parked. Once I came into earshot, he shared some choice opinions with me, to which I replied with a few of my own, all the while not slowing down my pace. The words themselves are not as important as the intention. This guy, whether drunk, high, or just an asshole, had decided that since I was a woman and/or a person of significant size, that I could be bullied. In that split second he judged me as someone who would take his bullshit, but he was wrong, and it got me thinking.
I am someone that prefers to be quiet most of the time. I am bookish and nerdy, I like to knit, I am often lost in my own daydreams. I detest small-talk because I’m terrible at it. I am confrontation-averse because I have a hard time arguing / debating – my brain is usually going in 47 different directions and I struggle to settle on a point, let alone the language to convey said point, unless I am at a keyboard where I can go back and edit myself continually (and even then, I’m generally far from eloquent).
None of these things, however, mean that I’m easily scared or intimidated. If someone says something I don’t agree with, I will most definitely speak up. I sometimes regret having done so after the fact, but I’m by no means afraid to speak my mind. Also, possibly because I have always been physically large my whole life and grew up around many other large people (genetically, I couldn’t escape being big even if I wanted to. If I lost 150lbs of excess weight, I’d still be built like a linebacker because that’s just how everyone in my family is built), I am not very easily intimidated physically either. My mom and I used to soda-bottle sword-fight or milk-jug box in the kitchen for fun when I was a kid. Those activities are exactly what they sound like – hitting each other with empty 2-liter soda bottles or gallon milk jugs until someone legitimately got hurt and stopped playing or we were both laughing too hard to continue. I doubt she was doing it on purpose at the time, but my mother basically taught me via goofy semi-violence in the kitchen that I was a fighter. I’m never going to be the one running TOWARD a fight (unless a loved one is in trouble), but if a fight comes to me, I’m not going to run AWAY from it.
I’m made of far harder stuff than I sometimes give myself credit for. I bet you are, too. Let’s remember we talked about it so that the next time we need a boost, we can come back and remind ourselves that we’re actually bad-asses who don’t take anyone’s shit. Deal?