“It’s amazing what you can get if you quietly, clearly and authoritatively demand it.” – Meryl Streep
I have my reservations about Meryl Streep, in particular her penchant for using award ceremonies as a platform to further her political agenda, but she is indisputably a fantastic actor and is also responsible for this fantastic quote. It’s a perfect example of true assertiveness – being so confident in yourself that you’re able to convince others to give you the things you’re asking for. It’s true that there’s a fine line between this and manipulation but it is the intention behind the behaviour that ultimately defines which bracket it falls into.
This week, I set myself the task of being more assertive at work. Firstly, I set the intention to ask for what I wanted. On one hand, I followed through with this intention. When I was working on Thursday night, I made sure to ask if I could leave at 11pm as I was going to be on placement at 9am the next day. The manager was fine with this, which was encouraging. But I’d also planned to ask about getting a break and I didn’t follow through with this. On Thursday, as I was only working for 5 hours, I didn’t feel like a break was necessary; but on Saturday I worked from 5pm until 12.30am. I asked a colleague who had been there for a year if she ever got breaks and she shook her head. This must have been passed on to the duty manager, because not long after she asked if I wanted to take a “breather”. A “breather”, I guess, is the closest thing I will get to a break at this job. To be fair, it was exceptionally busy that night and one member of staff actually said it was the worst shift he’d ever worked! So it could be that, going forward, there will be more time to de-stress or have a snack at work. I’m going to make a point of taking snacks to work with me and using Meryl Streep’s advice to make sure I get the small breaks I need.
Saying “no” without feeling guilty is an intention I never really got the opportunity to follow through because I wasn’t asked to do anything I didn’t want to do. But I’ll keep it in mind in case I get put on the work rota for a ton of shifts I don’t want to do. But I did phone in sick for my work placement the other day, so I guess that’s an example of saying “no” without feeling guilty. I got home from work just before midnight on Thursday night and felt so empty. I’d also been at college that day and I was exhausted. It’s times like these that I start to dissociate. For a couple of hours I was torn between deciding to phone in sick or to suck it up and just go in. But as the night dragged on, I grew more and more depressed and felt so devoid of energy that the thought of going into my placement was just too much. I have years of experience with low mood and I’m aware that sometimes the best thing for it is to carry on with your life and be around people but sometimes you reach a point where you know what’s best is to rest and be alone. I decided then to phone in sick the next day and take a day off for the sake of my mental health. After I’d dealt with that, I lay in bed until 1pm and enjoyed my day of doing basically nothing. I watched YouTube videos for hours, I listened to music and I ordered in pizza. It was one of the best days I’ve had in ages. I’m not trying to encourage everyone to phone in sick whenever they feel like it – this day I took off is one of only two mental health days I’ve taken this entire year and I’m incredibly proud of myself for that. But in the words of my old counsellor, sometimes you need a “duvet day”.
My last intention was to set my own priorities i.e. choose how to spend my time. Despite how busy I’ve been lately, I feel like I did this really well. I took time out to read and have a bath and before work on Saturday, I changed my guitar strings and played guitar for the first time in months. It gave me an opportunity to play a song I’d written a week or so ago and I feel like I might go to an open mic night before Christmas now. It was such a good feeling to have planned to do something before work because usually if I have a late shift to go to, I spend my day thinking about the fact that I have work later and I can’t enjoy my time. Setting aside time to do these things has helped me feel more fulfilled and grounded in the midst of all the things I have to do.
If I’m being honest, for the past few weeks, I’ve been resisting the onset of depression. I just can’t really handle things being hectic for a prolonged period of time. But I have to remind myself that this hectic year of studying and working and financial instability is giving me a ticket out of hospitality which is and has been the real source of stress in my life. Every time I get a new job in hospitality, I think: “I can’t wait to get out of this sector forever”. It’s to the point where I get so stressed and overworked I don’t even have the energy to work on music anymore, which is the worst part of it all. So hopefully, with doing this blog and continuing to implement healthy, loving habits into my life, I can come out the other end of this academic year happily and successfully.
Do you struggle with assertiveness? Do you think these intentions would help? Share your thoughts in the comments! 🙂 Thank you for reading! Next week’s post will be on self responsibility.
– SMUT. ❤ xxxx