Friday, November 17, 2006

The best defense against the atom bomb is not to be there when it goes off.

One of my favorite Friends episodes is the one in Season 5 when Monica and Chandler are trying to hide their relationship from everyone, and only Joey knows the truth about it. Monica and Chandler keep almost getting caught: Pheobe finds his underwear between the cushions on Monica's couch, Rachel walks in to find a steamy love nest complete with candles and a video camera in Chandler's apartment, and everyone finds a naked picture of Monica in his kitchen. They blame everything on Joey. It's Joey's underwear; Joey's trying to seduce a girl with candles and a video camera, Joey's caught leering at the naked picture of Monica. Finally, it comes out that Joey's a sex addict, and that explains it. His defense is "I'm Joey. I'm disgusting." And that's that. Everyone drops the subject because everyone knows he's right. He's Joey; that's how he's expected to behave. And pointing out the obvious ("I'm Joey") effectively takes the place of him actually explaining his actions ("I put the underwear there because...").

I do love that episode, but I promise there's a point for me summarizing it. Today at work, I got to thinking about stereotypes that we give ourselves, and that episode came to mind. Joey justifies his disgusting actions by implying that that's just what he does because he's Joey.

I've been having some problems with someone at work, and in discussing the situation today with a coworker, I found myself using the same argument. "Yes," I said, "I know I should stick up for myself. But I won't. Because I'm Becky, and that's how I work." My friend just raised her eyebrows at me, suggesting what I already knew: what a terrible way to back up your actions.

Someone needs to say something about the situation, and it has to be me because I'm directly involved. However, I can count the number of times on one hand that I've actually confronted someone about something that's been bothering me. It's two. In my whole life. I just can't do it. And I've always been defensive about it, and my ingenius way of dealing with it has been self-deprecation. I poke fun at myself, saying things similar to "I'm Becky; I'm disgusting" so that I don't have to actually change something about myself. I'm terrified of trying something new, even if I'm positive that that new element will fix my crappy situation.

It seems that the Friends defense won't work this time, though. I'm going to have to do something about it much sooner than later. I just have no idea where to begin. My natural coping mechanism is to cry until it feels better... but something in the back of my head tells me that crying during a heavy confrontation probably won't get me the results I'm looking for.

For years, I've wondered when would come the time that I'd stop being a wuss and put my foot down... when I'd decide I'd finally had my fill of being a doormat and that my convictions matter just as much as the next person's... when I'd stop putting other people's emotions before the truth and the job that needs to be done.

My grace period is running out. I guess I'm gonna have to be a man about it. You know... per se.

1 comment:

Phil said...

"I'm Becky. I'm a hardass."

I like the ring it has....