When we are born, it doesn’t take us long to figure out how to please our parents. It’s actually one of our survival instincts. Some of us act out for attention, some walk the straight and narrow for adoration and others are somewhere in the middle.

If you were born a girl, especially of my generation or older, there’s a huge chance you were taught to be a “good girl”. Good girls never questioned adults, never “talked back”, never caused trouble. And if you were born in the south, then multiply that by 1,000!

From the cradle, as good girls we were raised to believe that keeping people comfortable and being liked by everyone was more important than our own inner voice and opinions. I don’t blame my parents. That’s just how it was done. 

Growing up, no matter how uncomfortable I felt in a situation, I would never dare speak up and take the chance of offending someone or making them feel uneasy. *I* would take on the burden to be the one who would feel uneasy…that was my cross to bear as a good girl. I would be the martyr. I’d push my unnamed feelings of anger or resentment as deep down as I possibly could with a smile on my face all while dimming myself.

Little did I know, denying how I was truly feeling would lead to a lifetime of people pleasing and never wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings by simply uttering the word “no”. 

When the situation is right, it’s perfectly appropriate to put others’ needs ahead of our own. But to the extent that we’re feeling bitter or resentful about it? Then it’s soul crushing.

When we give of ourselves out of a place of love and caring, it’s a beautiful thing. When we give of ourselves because we can’t or won’t say no, it slowly crushes us until we feel there’s nothing left of us to give.

Brene Brown says, “Choose discomfort over resentment. I’d rather ten minutes of discomfort than the quiet, soul-sucking fury that comes with an uninspired, dishonest, ‘Sure. No problem…asshole.’”

But let’s be real here…it’s probably gonna get a little awkward the first few times we speak up and say how we actually feel about something or dare to say no. But with anything, the more we do it, the easier it’ll become.

The older I get, the more I realize being true to myself just makes me a happier human. I feel like I’m slowly learning to live the life I was meant to live. I’m still working on myself, though.
So the next time I need to honor my inner voice and tell someone no, my goal is to go with discomfort over resentment…even if the air gets a little uncomfortable for a bit. Because even good girls are allowed to say no.

Dandelion, Michele Fontana Portraits