I Don’t Want to Be a Coward

*Names have been changed

I’m PMS-ing today. And as a result of that, I am also emotional today. I’ve never been the type to get angry or unreasonable, to shout at people who have done nothing wrong, to be grumpy or purposefully look for trouble. But I am a crier. This I can say for sure, and anyone who knows me and is around me when I’m on my period can attest to this, also.

So, forgive me if what I am about to write today makes utterly no sense and/or is very emo. I’m emotional.

Today I realised I don’t want to be a coward anymore. I was about to have an uncomfortable, almost confrontational conversation with a friend I cared about very much. This friend is Harry*. It was foreseeable because I was warned by others that this conversation was coming. I had spent the last couple of days preparing, but at that moment, when I realised it was actually happening, everything I had prepared to say had evaporated from my mind.

And then my other friend called. And somehow, I ended up sharing all the details of my situation with this other friend. This other friend, we’ll call him Samuel*, isn’t a beat around the bush type of guy, nor the type to sugarcoat. He told me straight up that I had to be honest and that if it wasn’t a task I thought I could handle, I should let my best friend, Joy* do it, who we both knew was more straight up and direct than I was. This wasn’t the exact moment that I realised I had a problem because I already knew by this point, but it reinforced what was already the elephant in the room. He said that it would be best that I let Joy* handle the situation and though I agreed that she was more upfront about these things, I knew that if I kept letting other people have these difficult discussions for me, I would never be able to have them by myself. It’s like I always say: you don’t help the baby chick hatch from the egg or else it will never be strong enough to handle life without you.

I’ve been told for many years by many different people that I’m too nice, that I let people latch onto me, drain me, turn me into a mother figure when I never agreed to be one. I decided when I came to university that I was going to break that cycle but it doesn’t seem to be something that’s possible without courage. The phone conversation I had with Samuel* was very confusing for me – not because he was inarticulate as that was far from the case, but because he challenged what people had been telling me for years. He challenged the notion that you must have a small circle of friends to protect your light. He reminded me of my Christian duty to walk with all kinds of people, both saved and unsaved, those with different values and interests to me, and not out of my own benefit, but out of the potential positive impact I may have on other people’s lives. He reminded me that I want to live like Jesus Christ and that in order to do that, I must be willing to walk with all kinds of people for the edifying of their soul, as choosing company for the edification of my own is selfish. And then I experienced a sort of cognitive dissonance.

I wanted to be my closed off and introverted self who enjoyed time alone and only blessed a select group of people with my presence. I wanted to break the cycle of attracting broken souls, victims of bullying, social outcasts, and deeply insecure people who needed mending at the expense of my own mental health and emotional stability. At the same time, I knew I wanted to be like my Saviour, Jesus Christ. I wanted to have an open heart and embrace everyone with open arms because that’s what He did for us. And then I remembered something I learned from my note-taking of Pastor Michael Todd’s online sermons. He said that the second commandment, which was equally important to the first and greatest commandment, was ‘Love thy neighbour as you love thyself’. He said the prerequisite for loving your neighbour was loving yourself. And until I was able to do what was best for me, I was in no position to teach others how to do what was best for themselves.

And so, I went ahead with it. I had the uncomfortable conversation. And honestly, the build-up is always far worse than the moment because I knew he appreciated my honesty and I appreciated the fact that he wanted to hear it.

But something else was, and is, bothering me. The fact of how long it took me to arrive to honesty. The fact that I had almost changed my mind several times leading up to the conversation, and, had someone not already told him the basis of what I was going to say to him, I probably would have backed out. The fact that when I was on the phone with Samuel*, he told me that it would be better to say what I needed to say to Harry* sooner rather than later and used an existing situation involving himself as an example. A situation in which I knew Samuel* liked me more than a friend and, up until recently, I wasn’t able to tell him that I didn’t want to pursue anything. Though he never directly said that I should have told him how I felt earlier, I knew that he felt that way, and I don’t know whether it boils down to cowardice or other more complex reasons that I didn’t.

So now my situation is this: I know how to have uncomfortable conversations. I just take too long to have them. And when I have them, I’m a mess for days before and hours after. I need courage. I’ve set this as a goal now, and when I set something as a goal, and particularly when I write it down like this, it is predetermined that I will achieve it. I learned assertion last August but I guess it’s one of those things that must be exercised daily to maintain. I suppose at the halfway point of 2019, I’ll tell you guys how that journey is going.

And by the way, just to clarify, Harry* is not a broken soul or someone in need of mending like the people I mentioned I have a history with. He’s not toxic and he doesn’t drain me emotionally or spiritually. He’s been nothing but a good friend to me always. He’s just someone who I felt I needed to be honest with about boundaries. I think the phone conversation with Samuel* was deeper than the current situation at hand; it made me realise that in the past, I’ve been too quick to cut people off who I deemed as ‘toxic’. In fact, I was thinking of writing a blog post on removing such people from your life but I don’t know how I feel about writing it anymore. The cognitive dissonance is fairly strong but I will find my peace. In the meantime, I wish you all live in yours.

Live in Peace,

Kyra-Ann ईबी

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