I’ve written — somewhat brazenly naively — about apologizing when you’re not sorry to smooth over social situation. To progress this dialogue past where I was when I was 23: sometimes as a woman, it’s difficult to assert yourself, advocate for yourself and do so in a mature, respectful yet unapologetic way.
From a young age, we’re reminded to take care of other people’s feelings, but we don’t often dig into truly how to be your own advocate. I find myself often at an intersection of wanting to prioritize my needs, but fear what “they” will think.
Take, for example, my doctor. I thought he was a bit weird. I didn’t feel like we connected at all, even though he was my doctor for five years. I didn’t even really think he asked the right questions or listened to me that much.
He never did anything wrong, though. He did everything he was supposed to. He just sometimes would pat my shoulder when he’d leave, tell me about his son while inspecting, or he’d man-splain something about me to me. But I also thought that was just his vibe since he was a male gyno.
Then I had this epiphany.
There is literally no reason I have to go to him. My insurance works elsewhere. I live in a city. There are plenty of other doctors and practices. Hell, I could even see a different doctor at the same practice. It’s my body. Why should I keep going to see him?
But what if he sees that I switched doctors and asks why I switched? I started to feel the edging in of the possibility of other people having feelings.
But then I checked myself. I need to advocate for my health.
I need to switch doctors to someone who I feel relates to me. Be it a male or female, I need someone who I don’t find uncomfortable. It’s the least I can do for myself.
So I switched to this badass, empowered woman who doesn’t make me feel like a DumB woman with lady problems.
Next up, let’s talk about advocating for your pay.
Step one: Just do it.
That’s my advice 100 percent of the time. Why? Because we make SEVENTY SIX CENTS TO THE MALE DOLLAR. You know they’re asking! We have to make up our gap!
So how do you get mentally right for negotiating your salary?
Welp, as someone whose concern for others sometimes trumps my own,
Do it for all the ladies coming up after you.
It was so much easier for me to negotiate my salary thinking that I was doing it on behalf of being a woman than it was for my own personal gain. Remind yourself that the more we ask for now, the more our children get later. Every time we ask, we’re doing what we can for parity!
Learning to be my own advocate is an evolution. It’s so easy for me to let my internal monologue tell me about how I’m not the prettiest, or smartest, or fittest, or funniest, or kindest or most successful person, so OF COURSE I don’t deserve the best of everything. Of course I get shafted. Of course I am in a situation that I don’t want to be in.
But I do deserve the best of everything. So do you. And the more we practice advocating for ourselves, the more normal it becomes. There are people who are way less awesome than us that ask — and get — far more than we do. You know what they say, ask and you shall receive.