From Wimp to Warrior (Kind of)

By Margaret Bishop

From Wimp to Warrior (Kind of)

As a 23 year-old newlywed, I answered the phone late one afternoon to discover that I was the lucky winner of a free set of kitchen knives. Delighted to hear my name combined with the words “winner” and “free,” I gratefully accepted my prize on the spot. After eagerly listening to the details on the knives and their quick delivery, I was a little taken aback when the friendly voice on the other line informed me that I would need to watch a quick demonstration of a great new vacuum cleaner before I took actual possession. My inner voice was screaming “hang up, say no thanks,” but my inner wimp was too embarrassed to admit that I didn’t really want the knives that much. After all, wouldn’t that be terribly impolite after I’d just accepted the prize with such enthusiasm?

To make a long story short, I foolishly set an appointment with a complete stranger, and then paced the floor and said a silent prayer that my husband would arrive home before I was either A) forced to sit through a high pressure sales gimmick or B) the first unwitting victim of a serial killer in my West Knoxville neighborhood. Fortunately, neither scenarios A or B occurred as my husband arrived home and promptly called the salesman to let him know that we were not interested. Somewhat amused by the whole incident, my husband pointed out what might have been the obvious. “Don’t you think that he would rather not waste his time coming out here when there was no way we were buying a vacuum cleaner?” Well, in retrospect, I suppose I should have thought about that possibility, but at the moment, I was too worried about having a perceived confrontation of any sort. After all, I had accepted those kitchen knives without skipping a beat.

Later that week, I confessed the seemingly endless depths of my “wimpdom” to a particularly bold co-worker that also happened to be the mother of two small children. Laughing, she assured me that I would not remain a wimp forever. “Wait until you have kids,” she said knowingly. “All of a sudden, you’ll find that you can stand up to anyone or anything that threatens your family.” With that statement, she more than likely marched down the hall to demand a flexible work schedule or extended maternity leave. From where I sat in my office/storage closet, it seemed quite unlikely that I would ever handle confrontation with the confidence that she exhibited.

A few years later, I gave birth to my own child, and just as my co-worker had promised, I suddenly found myself possessed of a tenacity and strength that I didn’t really know I had. Faced with serious medical decisions, I found that I had no hesitation in questioning the variety of specialists involved in my son’s care. Much to my surprise, I even found myself politely expressing my dissatisfaction when I felt something had been mishandled. Too concerned with my baby’s welfare to worry about hurting someone’s feelings, I slowly but surely learned to express myself without the muzzle of fear.

Three kids later, I have had several uncomfortable conversations in regard to their schooling, medical care and the variety of other issues that crop up during childhood. As much as I might not like it, I’ve found that the more directly an issue is faced, the more satisfaction you usually feel in the end. It doesn’t necessarily mean that every confrontation has always gone the way I hoped or gained the desired result, but I have found that there is much more to be lost when I let things that are really important to me slide. When I had kids, I found an outside motivation to be stronger. Knowing that three little people are depending on me for protection gives me the extra push I need to step out of my comfort zone. That’s not to say that I’ve suddenly metamorphosed into a hard-charging, no-holds-barred negotiator. In fact, I’m probably still pretty wimpy among a sea of corporate sharks and Type A personalities. However, I’ve found that when it matters, I do have the strength to stand up for myself and my family. Just think what my 23 year-old self would think if she could see me now!

About this writer

  • Margaret Bishop Margaret Bishop and her husband, Matt, reside in Camden, South Carolina, with their three wonderful children (David, Olivia and Thomas) and always entertaining dog, Sugar. In between carpools, Margaret enjoys reading and writing as much as possible.

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One Response to “From Wimp to Warrior (Kind of)”

  1. Victoria Bishop says:

    A+

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