Updated: Jul 10, 2020
| This is the 79th story of Our Life Logs |
For the first 16 years of my life, I never had the courage to stand up for myself. I let people walk all over me. I was meek and lived without the slightest confidence. Change was desired.
I was born in Uttarakhand, India in 1996. My father was a serviceman and my mom stayed at home taking care of my older brother, sister, and me. I was a very shy girl. I didn’t speak much and never defended myself even if someone said something cruel to me.
I believe my shyness stemmed from the lack of love given to me by my father. He never seemed to care about me or anyone in our family, not even my mother or her parents. When his in-laws would visit, he wouldn’t give them the proper respect. This wasn’t much of a surprise because he didn’t really respect anyone but himself.
If someone had something that would benefit him, he’d pay attention to them. The second he got what he wanted, he would go back to ignoring them. He only kept people around if they had something he wanted. He couldn’t really reap any benefits from his children, so he often neglected us. When he did speak to us, it was often to punish us. He never hit us, but was mentally torturous. He made me feel small, and no matter what I did to try to get on his good side, nothing worked. He’d say terrible things to my mother, and she just took it. She never stood up to him. I felt that I couldn’t stand up to him either. I lived in fear that he would punish me if I did anything wrong. I was afraid. Even the simplest things like speaking first in conversations terrified me.
Quiet and timid, I didn’t have many friends, but I was lucky enough to have a great one, Prachi, standing by me as I grew up. Prachi and I had known each other since we were little kids as we lived in the same village. It’s funny that we became good friends because we were complete opposites. She was confident and unafraid to speak her mind while I was shy and scared. I remember once when we were about 11, we were outside playing with a ball. When the ball bounced into a neighbor’s house that I did not know well, I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid to go to speak to the neighbor. I was going to accept that our ball was gone, but Prachi looked at me in shock. She said, “What’s the problem? Who cares if you don’t know them? Just ring the bell and ask for our ball back.”
Prachi encouraged me to approach the front door, assuring me that I could do it. My hands were trembling as I slowly raised one of them to knock on the door. My stomach dropped as I heard footsteps approaching the door. A part of me didn’t want the neighbor to answer. When she opened the door, I said quietly, “Hello, how are you?” The neighbor stared at me expectedly, but I had frozen, too afraid to say anything else. Prachi looked at me in surprise and tried to urge me on, but words would not come out of my mouth. Thankfully, Prachi stepped in and asked the neighbor if we could get our ball back, and the neighbor was cooperative.
There were many moments like this that Prachi tried to encourage me to speak up for myself, but I had been raised to be afraid of confrontation. I reached a breaking point when I was 16 and a boy stole one of my books and returned it to me a week later completely destroyed. I was upset, but wasn’t going to scold the boy. Prachi had no problem scolding him for me. I stood silent while my friend stood up for me once again. I knew I couldn’t let this happen anymore. I needed to make a change. Prachi wasn’t always going to be around to defend me, so I would have to learn to defend myself. After the incident, Prachi told me that I had to stand up for myself or I would never make it in this world, and I agreed. I decided that it was time to change.
The change in personality took place slowly. I started with small victories first. When someone said something bad to me, I would respond with a defensive comment. Those first few times were terrifying, but it got easier. The proudest moment that really helped shape my personality change came one day after dinner. My father put his plate in the sink without cleaning it, and I scolded him about it. I told him, “We’re your family, not your slaves.” After speaking, I held my breath, waiting to be yelled at. To my surprise, my father didn’t yell. He just got up and cleaned off his plate. This was a major turning point for me. If I could stand up to my father, I could stand up to anyone.
Over time, I gained more confidence and was happy with the new character I had created. I began doing things I never would have done. I started calling my teachers out if I thought they were wrong. I would stand up to the boys who tried to steal things from me. I even got into arguments with my father when I disagreed with him. My mother cried when she saw the changes in me. She told me she had wanted this change in me but wasn’t sure how to help me get there. My father, a man that never admits when he is wrong, addresses his mistakes now when we get into arguments. I am the only person in our family he has ever admitted his mistakes to, and that makes me feel even more confident.
As I go further into my adulthood, I feel I’m becoming stronger and bolder every day. I refuse to let my father control my life any longer. Fear is no more.
When I look back on my transformation, I am proud. Prachi was right. The person that I was could not have handled the real world, and I am happy to have changed. When I was young, I’d let people walk all over me, and I’d then go home and cry for hours. I don’t do that anymore. Thanks to the encouragement of my best friend, I was able to break that habit and grow into a stronger, assertive person.
To girls that are like the old me, I implore you to stand up for yourself. Don’t allow yourself to suffer alone. Tell people when they are wrong. Be bold. Change can be good if it makes you a better person. I am proud of the strong woman I have become.
This is the story of Khushi Rawat
Khushi, 22, is a college student in Vellore, India. Growing up with a neglectful, verbally abusive father, Khushi became a shy, scared girl afraid to stand up for herself until her friend encouraged her to be bold. Outside school, she’s currently also working to afford food, rent, and other everyday necessities. She will be graduating soon, and she plans to buy a house so that she can eventually get her mother away from her selfish father. Khushi loves to dance and watch movies in her spare time.
This story first touched our hearts on May 11, 2018.
| Writer: Kristen Petronio | Editors: Manqing Jin |