When I want or need something, I rarely admit it. Instead of being honest, my tendency is to skirt around the issue. People end up hearing my apologize, compliment, and mumble more than say what is needed. In the long run, this approach takes more time and effort. However my fear of being a nuisance holds me captive.
However I spoke up a few days ago instead of being quiet. Instead of bending over backwards to please someone else, I said the truth in a polite but very direct way. Doing so surprised me but helped me receive information that I needed and let the other person know how I felt. Interestingly enough, most of the times when I used this tactic because of anger or a sense of justice, people stopped and took me seriously. Instead of being the sweet quiet girl, I transformed into a woman who stood up for the rights of other and myself.
Currently I am writing an article on mental health. Hoping to glean some wisdom from professionals, I reached out to numerous counselors. However no one contacted me. This did not surprise me because I know that they are very busy. So, I waited patiently for their words on what college students can do to learn about and care for their mental health.
Finally, one of the counselors responded. Instead of answering my questions, she stated that her schedule was too busy to give her thoughts. Once again, this response left me unsurprised although worried about finding material for my article.
But this was not all that she told me. This medical professional expressed concerns about an article on mental health. According to her, the place she works at sees many clients. Thus she did not want to encourage the students who might read my work to check out her place of work.
Reading this floored me. Honestly, I have not been so furious in a long time. How could someone who is supposed to be helping others not want to offer service? Why would she be against college students learning about their mental health? What could I do now that my story was being challenged?
Despite my anger, I wrote back to her in a courteous but direct way. Some of my words were “If you are busy, I am sorry. However I hope that you want people to learn more about their mental health.” The e-mail made me feel guilty. How could I, a young woman who has been told all her life that she has trouble in the way she views the world, say anything but compliments to a wise educated person? Did I dare to question someone else?
Yet, I also felt a sense of relief. Instead of being mousey, I stood up for others and myself. Yes, her office might be busy but everyone should receive the treatment and education that they need. Denying that to college students (many who struggle with mental health issues) is simply wrong. So I put the correspondence behind me, figuring she would not email me back.
To my surprise, she responded. Not only did she agree that all students should learn about their mental health, she also answered some of my first questions. Evidently, her concern had been that I would encourage students to try counseling. Although I still disagree with her, I understand her point of view a bit better. Having numerous students curiously stopping by when they do not really need that type of support could be viewed as a problem. However, one could also see it as a chance to help and educate people even if they are not deeply struggling. Hopefully her attitude will change but if not, I see where she is coming from in a better light.
So, I feel rather empowered after all of that. Yes, speaking the truth directly is hard but it actually works! If you can do so in a courteous but confident way, you might be surprised at the response that you receive.
Here is a video of one of my favorite songs at the moment. These children are very cute as well. Think about being brave and direct the next time that you are confronted with a difficult situation. Despite the stress at first, looking back reminds me that my direct words and actions were worth it.