I'm celebrating myself with a nice little shot of tequila. I did something tonight that I'm so proud of, something that has been years in the making. Won't you celebrate with me and share my excitement?
I'm generally terrible at speaking up for myself. I've been shy all my life and my nature is to keep quiet. I don't like to speak up and be uncomfortable, but mostly I'm concerned about making others feel awkward. I'll go out of my way to keep the peace, not rock the boat, cause no tension, but I don't like the way I feel about it. Although it makes me want to throw up to speak up, I can tell in my gut that keeping quiet is not always what I *really* want to do.
There's a bumper sticker I've loved from the first time I saw it over 10 years ago. The saying has become my mantra every time I try to talk courage into myself. "Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes." I used to keep quiet rather than speak up because I would be embarrassed if my face turned red, or if I cried. Let me just admit that I am a crier. Pampers commercials make me cry. I operate on high emotions and my body's reaction to fear, anger, and happiness is to cry. Since reading that bumper sticker I've decided that it's ok to blubber through something I really want to say. It still happens sometimes, but lately I've come out of those experiences with only a shaky voice and not so many tears!
Tonight I feel like I had a bit of a graduation into what I've been trying to be. I went to a yoga class through the experimental college offered at the local community center. In the first 10 minutes I knew it was not what I was looking for. It's been a few years since I've gone but I'm more advanced than the class. I felt like I had walked into a class in a nursing home that taught seniors how to stretch. There's a difference between yoga asanas and stretching your hamstrings by pulling on your leg. About 15 minutes into the class I was thinking of a way to get out of it.
I paid $60 for a 6 weeks class and even though that's a good deal I knew I would not be going back to the class. For an hour and a half I considered packing up and leaving and losing my money. Was it worth $60 to avoid a confrontation? As soon as I realized that I could attend 4 good yoga classes at a studio with that money, I knew I had to speak my mind and let my voice shake.
After class I waited for the other 6 people to leave and approached the teacher. In my sweetest voice I said, "Is there a way I can just pay for this class? I won't be coming back." I actually spoke my mind without mincing words; I stated what I wanted and had a clear head about it! This is such a huge deal for me!
I stuck to the point and brought tangents back around to what I wanted to say. She pointed out that she had to thoroughly explain the moves and go slow so new people wouldn't be left behind. I told her I support people learning yoga but because I was past that stage I needed a more challenging class. I think she might have started to get a little defensive and told me that sometimes it takes time to get used to the style of a new teacher. I let her know that her teaching style didn't affect my decision - it was simply too basic of a class. When she let me know that she would not be going over the same asanas every week that gave me another opportunity to get back to my point. That rate of asana introduction was too slow. In an hour and a half we did 8 stretches. I could see that line of conversation continuing and I didn't want it to. I ended it with, "So how much do I owe you for this class tonight?"
It was then that she went about giving me back $52. I kept a clear head and stayed focused on the point. I was able to be nice about it AND state what I wanted. Later as I've been thinking about this, little doubts have started creeping in. "Was that an OK thing to do? Should I have just stuck with it?" I had to remind myself that I was doing something FOR me and not something TO her. It was awkward and uncomfortable and I hated every second of it, but I DID IT! I have made one little step toward living my life for myself and standing up to speak what I wanted. Extra points for me - my voice didn't even shake!