The Fear of Saying “No”

Stepping onto a stone

“By stepping outside your comfort zone to do something peculiar, you confirm that you can do more than you’ve done. Move out!” – Israelmore Ayivor

“No” is one of my least favorite words. I hate saying it to people for numerous reasons. However, the main reason stems from fear.

Fear of them being hurt, upset, or unhappy. Fear of them disliking me, thinking I dislike them, or being rejecting. An even darker fear underlies most of these: fear of how they will retaliate.

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One Thousand Thanks: 1166 – 1176. Life in a New Culture

A temple in Wuxi

Wuxi

Wow. My last Thankfulness Thursday was in February of last year. Lately, my thoughts have drifted to dark and ungrateful places. My hope by bringing back these days is to encourage me to enjoy life in a new culture even when it is difficult.

1166. Spicy food – I never liked spicy food back in the US. To be honest, I never really tried it but convinced myself that I couldn’t take it. Here, nearly everything is spicy. It’s difficult to eat at times but so delicious. I’m realizing that I’m tougher than I thought.

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Losing Sight of Yourself

"There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one's self." - Benjamin Franklin

“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” – Benjamin Franklin

You know yourself better than any other human.

Sounds simple, right? Why is it then that I find this so hard to remember? I look to others to tell me what I do well, how I look (or how I should look), and who I should become. When I need approval, I don’t even try to rely on myself. Instead, a friend or family member is sure to boost my self-esteem.

Or at least, that is how it has worked most of my life. A time arrives, however, when people around you belittle instead of charm, critique instead of comfort, and ignore instead of notice. Suddenly, you are forced to look at yourself in the mirror in confusion, wondering who you are without the words of others. Or perhaps, wondering if the bitter, nastier labels they stuck on you are the reality of your character.

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Can You Ever Fully Escape Your Past?

Imagine meeting an old group of friends or classmates. One person constantly belittled and even bullied others while growing up. Now, she listens well and even apologized for past actions. Another person, on the other hand, was shy and insecure. He still struggles to speak and usually complains about himself when he does speak.

Situations like this happen to me all of the time although not always in the same day. I meet people from the past who have changed tremendously while others are nearly identical. The questions arise, “Do people change? Can someone move on from the past? Are some people able to forget who they were?”

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I’m No Longer Human; I’m Just a Patient

Water lilly

The doctor saw me less than 20 minutes. In that amount of time, he prescribed me two medications and told me to stop taking one I had been given less than a week earlier. One of those medications cost nearly $150 with insurance even when using the generic instead of the brand.

He didn’t say a word about the cost. Just gave me the slip and sent me on my way.

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Can Someone Objectify You Based on Purity?

FlowerThroughout youth group and college chapels, the ideas of modesty and purity were drilled into my head. Even at a younger age, I was already being told what I shouldn’t do or wear or say. Being good was one of my main goals in life, so I took all of these lessons extremely seriously and still do.

However, one talk that no one in my youth group ever gave me was how to stay safe. No one spoke about abuse, assault, or manipulation at my university. If the concept of safety even came up, it was quickly glossed over as one of the pros of being modest or acting like a good girl. Thus, all I could discern about staying safe was the more innocent and pure I was, the safer I would stay.

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Coming Back Stronger than Before

Cinderella

Disneybounding as Cinderella

I am not even sure how to start this exactly. The wait between these posts (both for you reading and me writing) has been far too long.

Life has been a bit hectic and full of changes lately. Since my last post in June (forever ago, I know), I have been offered a new job which I will be leaving the country for in a few months. After years of dreaming and doubting myself, I am going to be teaching English in China. Better yet, the Disney company will still be my employer.

The joy of taking this new step in life comes hand-in-hand with the fear of change. Am I really moving to a country across the world that I have never been to before? How will I learn Mandarin that quickly? How will I survive without my family and friends? How will I ever be confident enough to teach?

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When the Shaking Starts

Meeting Kylo Ren

Meeting Kylo Ren

My feet are firmer on the ground than previous times in my life. My heart does not trip over itself while scrambling to get away from a new person quite as often. My smile usually feels real instead of plastered onto my face.

Yet, there are still moments when the shaking starts. When my head begins to whirl and my breath comes in rapid puffs. When I feel like if I see another person or anyone touches me, I will break down in tears.

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Am I Anyone without a Smile?

Some days, the smiles just don't want to come.

Some days, the smiles just don’t want to come.

From theater to Disney, my life has constantly been filled with places where I need to smile. I enjoy smiling. When I see others smiling, my heart feels lighter especially if I helped bring about their joy. I don’t mind keeping a smile on my face for hours on end when I see it positively influencing others.

However, I sometimes feel more like crying than smiling. Then, I realize that people think of me as someone who always smiles. Who would I be without my smile? This haunts me.

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Keep Treading the Water

Willows over water

Living in recovery (or at least attempting to) is strange. At times, the current sweeps you under and pins you under the water until you feel your lungs about to burst. Other times, the water seems like a calm pool, perhaps even enjoyably cool and refreshing.

Then there are days, weeks, months, years when you are just treading the water. You aren’t about to drown, but your feet certainly do not touch the ground to stabilize you. Each recovery-based choice takes considerable effort and seems like a waste most of the time. However, making those healthy choices is not impossible.

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