A comedy called Wonderfalls premiered on FOX back in 2004. The show was quirky and unfortunately lasted only a season. Honestly, I didn’t know the show existed until I went to my local library and picked up the Season One DVD to check out. It was 2005. I sat down and watched that single season over a weekend. I fell in love with the show.
The main character, Jaye, was me back in my 20s. She was still figuring out how to navigate life after college. Most of the show is viewers watching Jaye learn how to “get her words out”. She lived so much in her head. When it was time to confront someone about an issue or just talk to a crush she was stumped each time.
I was Jaye for a very long time. The beginning of when I started to change was my second job out of college. I was 28 by this time and had grown a lot as a person. Unfortunately, I was still a little naïve when it came to dealing with people. I was working at a staffing agency. It was my first human resources-related position. I always loved working with people and enjoyed helping those seeking employment. The hardest part of my job was dealing with one of my co-workers.
We were pleasant with each other the first few months. Somewhere between month three and month four everything changed. She hardly talked to me. When she did talk to me she always had an attitude. She was older than me (almost 50) so I just figured that she just saw me as some “little girl” who she had to teach. I thought she was cool in her own way because she had this amazing vibe about her. She was a tough Puerto Rican cookie who had moved up the ladder very quickly. She was badass. She got s__t done! I always admired those women.
So around month four, she started harassing me and it became unbearable. She had something to say about every little thing I did. One day I went to another co-worker who was my friend to tell her about the harassment.
“Lisa…she does it to me too. She curses at me in Spanish so you all don’t know what she is saying.”
I was in shock. My friend was from El Salvador and the only other person in the office that could speak Spanish.
Once I realized she was harassing my friend too I became very upset.
I finally grew a backbone. It took me several days, but I eventually gained the confidence to talk to her. One day I went into the office and asked to speak to her alone for a few minutes. We walked into another room and I closed the door. I told her I really liked the job. I wanted to get along with everyone. I explained to her that I felt like she had an issue with me and I didn’t understand why. I wanted to understand so we could handle it and move on. Her face immediately changed. She was flabbergasted by my directness.
She finally explained to me that she felt like I didn’t deserve the job. I didn’t have the qualifications. She did admit in the last few weeks she had seen a change in me. She felt I was finally starting to step up to the plate. Her assessment wasn’t completely wrong. My previous work experience was retail and customer service – definitely not HR at all. I was very green (inexperienced)! Yet, I was really trying hard to prove myself.
The biggest shocker is when she told me “You have shown me a side of you I really like. I like this side of you. It took a lot for you to come and talk to me.” In her own way, she told me I was “badass”. I was so excited!
The best part – we never had issues again.
I really grew up in that moment. I told myself from that day forward I would just say what I needed to say! Stop having all these conversations in my head. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t still hesitate from time to time. I do.
Each year that has gone by I keep trying to stick to this motto. I don’t have the fear of rejection or disappointment like before. If I feel strongly about saying something – I do it. I try not to hold on to things anymore.
December 2021 Update: I hung out with my former co-worker and friend from El Salvador this summer. (Sorry, this is my descriptor since I don’t want to mention her name). We joked about me still needing to learn more Spanish. I was so happy to be around her again. I hadn’t seen her in a few years. We were so happy to see each other. We will continue our friendship and do more stuff together in 2022. I wanted to share this because if you have a friend you haven’t heard from in a while – now is the time to try to reconnect. It’s the perfect day to call. I hope you reconnect with some old friends again in the new year.
Also, I wanted to update this post to let everyone out there know that if there is something or someone you need to say a certain thing to…today is a good day to do it. Don’t take any negativity into the new year. Say what you need to say and move on. If you want to let someone know your true feelings…go ahead and tell them. If you don’t get the response you wanted – well, at least now you know how they feel. You don’t have to hold on to anything the next day. You don’t have to keep wondering what they are really thinking. We aren’t holding on to any more secrets, feelings, anything. We are all going to get our words out…and say what we need to say.
Like one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Sara Bareilles, said in her song “Brave”:
I want everyone to understand their worth. Yes, you ARE worthy of unconditional love. You ARE worthy of a good position after you worked so hard. You ARE worthy of better pay after all those great reviews. Tell that to yourself. Send yourself daily reminders.-Lisa C.
Keep moving forward…