“I’m just so non-confrontational.”
Yum. I like the way that sentence tastes in my mouth. I like the way it makes me feel all warm and bubbly inside. I like how it makes me seem small and dainty and manageable. I like flaunting around my non-confrontational imaginary badge of honor as though it were a hard-fought war metal. As thought I had weathered a thousand arguments without so much as muttering a word.
But in 2016 one of my goals is to be more confrontational.
This probably makes me sound like a huge jerk, but allow me to explain.
For a long time I was obsessed with being non-confrontational. In fact, even if I ordered something at a restaurant and they brought me the wrong food I refused to send it back. I’ve paid full price for things that were definitely on sale because I was afraid to say something. If someone honked at me on the road I would spend the rest of the day in a play-by-play wondering what I possibly could’ve done wrong to upset another driver.
Those all sound so trivial, but my desire to be non-confrontational manifested itself outside of my errands. My relationships started to suffer. Rather than actually speak my mind or voice my opinion I wanted to just go with the flow. I wanted to be “cool girl” (who does not exist, more on her at a later date) and free-spirited. I wanted to be the easy-going friend who let other people decide. I felt as though if I were truly selfless I would remain confrontational. Or maybe I was terrified to disagree because it meant someone might leave me. I don’t know, you decide.
Don’t even get me started with romantic relationships.
My decision to be non-confrontational kept me in unhealthy relationships for far too long. . I didn’t want to rock the boat by saying that I didn’t like a certain type of food or enjoy particular activities. I was afraid I would be the nagging girlfriend if I said something about how it made me uncomfortable crossing physical boundaries. I definitely, under no circumstances, was going to say if my feelings were hurt. There was one instance where my boyfriend said something that cut right to the source of my insecurities. For personal reasons I’m not really ready to blog about it, but it was pretty horrible. I mean, he really just dug right in and said something no person should say to another human being.
And you know what I said?
It was fine.
I even laughed I think.
I went along like absolutely nothing bothered me when in reality I was completely devastated.
But I just knew that being non-confrontational would solve my problems. I just kept white knuckling everything and living in constant fear of conflict. Because of how uncomfortable conflict was I believed it would destroy relationships and as a result destroy me. I desired a conflict-free life and yet felt so conflicted. Attempting to live in the tension between those opposing forces led to a lot of anxiety in my life.
Really I was just using my lack of confrontation to mask my co-dependence.
When you get to the root of it I was just obsessed not simply with avoiding confrontation but with people-pleasing. I wanted everyone to be happy all the time. I wanted the TSA officer to sing my praises for my quick and efficient security screening. I wanted my friends’ stamp of approval so they would invite me to more events which would make my calendar feel fuller which would make my life feel complete. I wanted boyfriends to think I was “cool girl” who was “down for anything.”
I was looking at every person I came into contact with to affirm my place on the planet. Which is the quickest way to bleed any relationship dry.
But I’m learning confrontation isn’t condemnation.
Confrontation doesn’t condemn our relationships or curse them or kill them. Maybe you’re like me and you’ve spent a lifetime trying to people please and gain the approval of an audience. Guess what? They’ll never clap loud enough if they even clap at all. Because at the end of the day it’s just a show, it’s just a performance. And genuine relationships don’t require performance, they only require participation.
Maybe you entered into conflict once and it turned out poorly. Maybe it did end a relationship and now you’re a little gun shy. Maybe you think that good people, good Christians especially, don’t disagree. Maybe you’ve watched too many Christians talk about what they’re against rather than what they’re for. Maybe you’re afraid of really getting some skin in the game and investing enough to care whether you lose relationships or not.
Plus, if your relationships can't withstand a little conflict then are they relationships at all? This is a serious question worth asking. If the people around us can't withstand the weight of our hopes, dreams, desires, beliefs, fears, and insecurities then they might not be worth investing in. If they crumble at the first sign of exposure then they something to build upon.
I’m here to say there are better things to aspire to than being non-confrontational.
There are a lot of things I would rather people say at my funeral other than, “Wow, Hannah was just so non-confrontational.” No, I would rather be remembered for having deep relationships and loving people well. Turns out loving people is hard and if you’re doing it right there’s bound to be a little bit of conflict along the way. I want people to remember the life I was able to offer them.
And if something is alive it’s going through conflict. It’s embracing the change. It’s growing. It’s leaning into its becoming no matter how uncomfortable it is or not.
So in 2016 I want to be more confrontational. Not in the really offensive Facebook ranting type of way. I mean in the real way. The way that allows me to be real and allows others to get all of me, not the convenient or quiet pieces. I bet the messiest parts of us are the ones worth sticking to. I’m tired of looking for meaning and validation by appeasing the masses. I’m learning that by silently trying to be everything to everyone I’ll very quickly lose myself and become nothing to no one.
I want to be all of me to a few safe people. I want to offer up the realest parts of me knowing it would give them a reason to run. I want to be more confrontational so that we’ll all have a reason to stay.