Is it Just Me, Or is it Kind of Nice to Have Enemies?

There’s this line from The Office that I always think describes me perfectly. Pam says, “I hate the idea that someone out there hates me. I hate even thinking that al-Qaeda hates me. I think if they got to know me, they wouldn’t hate me.” THAT’S ME! I am so painfully uncomfortable with confrontation that I avoid it at all costs. And I constantly make every effort to know that I’m on everyone’s good side — it has always made me so twitchy to think that I might be in somebody’s bad graces. It goes way back for me, I’m a peacekeeper at heart.

A few months back I was talking with a friend and asked if they had ever really, truly told somebody off to their face. I was half wishing that they would have a great telling-off story, because I think deep down I wish that I had one. There have been so many times when I’ve been in a situation where I really should have spoken my mind, stood up for myself, and just sort of let somebody have it. But I just… don’t. Because I don’t want to make waves. And then, of course, later I play the conversation over and over in my head and immediately come up with one zillion snappy responses or comebacks. But in the moment, never.

So I had been mulling this over for a few days and it hit me that I actually have had a couple of these experiences in my life, where I was forced into a confrontation and stood up for myself. I feel like I almost blocked them out because it makes me so uncomfortable. But I started remembering, and these conversations came back to me. Both of them were with good friends, where there was a misunderstanding or argument, and for once, I didn’t back down. I held my ground and said my peace. And you know what? Neither of those people are my friends any more.

In one case, it was my choice. In the other, it was my friend’s choice. And if I ever saw these people in person again it would be awkward at best. For a long long time, I agonized over both of these friendships. I felt lots of guilt and sadness and anger. But just recently I started wearing those two incidences like little badges of pride, because I sort of have enemies. And you know what that means? It means I stood up for myself! I stood by my convictions and I voiced them out loud and I wasn’t willing to waver. I’m still sad about the friendships, but I also know that friendships deteriorate for a reason. And in the midst of losing those friends, my upper lip got a little stiffer and I gained a few bravery points.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not out cruising the neighborhood with my leather jacket on, looking for a fight like a Jet looking for a Shark. (Hellooooo musical theatre reference.) But I’m also glad to be on the other side of those experiences and be able to see that having enemies doesn’t always mean that you’re in the wrong, or that you made too many waves. Sometimes it just means that you can’t see eye to eye, and that you weren’t afraid to say so. xoxo

P.S. Do you have any enemies? Do you feel the same way about it that I do? Tell me your stories!

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  1. That is such a good reflection, it’s giving me a lot to think about. I wouldn’t say I have made enemies, but have lost friends and accointances because I decided to stood for the values I believe in. The two stories I’m thinking about involved stealing and lying, which I was not going to do, even if it meant spending the rest of the school year alone. Those decisions were not hard to make, because I wanted to stand up to to what I believe in (and be able to sleep at night, ha!). Despite that, I can’t remember any time that I stood for myself, just for me and not my values, which is giving me a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing that post!

    1. And thank you for sharing your story! Pretty incredible that you had the clarity of mind to stand for your convictions in those situations. I think that’s a pretty awesome start!

  2. I think it’s so important to stand your ground and not let yourself get pushed over. As women we are so often expected to “play nice” and be accommodating even if we are miserable. I’m not for one second about sacrificing myself to make other people feel comfortable. Over the years I’ve lost a few “friends” and burned some bridges that I’ll happily never desire to cross again. I stood my ground to an emotionally abusive professor in grad school who in the end came out victorious in some sorts, but I remained confident in myself because I didn’t cave to her manipulation even though it made her loathe me. Yes there was hell to pay but all the while, I’m worth it. I hope every person feels they are worth standing their ground. Bending over backwards for people who don’t care about you is very sad.

    1. Agreed! And thank you for sharing! I think there comes a point in every woman’s life where she is less scared of what other people will think of her than she is of not speaking her mind. That can be beautiful and powerful. <3

  3. In my youth I was insidiously attacked by a supposedly “good friend.” I was afraid to stand up for myself and suffered horrible sadness and pain. Thank goodness my older brother and sister saw the ridiculousness of her antics and were a big comfort. But I had no courage–standing up to her would mean that the so-called popular crowd would be against me. I believed the most popular kids were on her side. Back then, that seemed like a very big deal.
    I RECENTLY found out–and mind you, this is 50 years later!!!–turns out theee most popular girl in our class was betrayed by her too, and was furious with her.
    Quietly, calmly, honestly, without malice, and even with love, if possible, stand up for yourself. I wish I had. Be brave. It’s the right thing to do.

  4. I LOVED this post, Chelsea! I can totally relate, and I feel like it’s such an awkward, weird thing no one really talks about – but it’s absolutely liberating and courage building to stand up for ourselves. It was so great to read that you’ve experienced the same things because you truly are one of the kindest, sweetest people I know – which means EVERYONE experiences these things. I love the way you framed this, and your perspective is absolutely spot on. You’re just the best.

    1. Thank you so much, Ann, you have no idea how much that all means! I think at the end of the day we’re all just doing the very best we can and when people are honest about that it unites us even further. <3