As I approached seat 6D on my flight, I smiled and told the gentleman he was sitting in my assigned window seat. He smiled back and said he was sure he was in his assigned seat. I looked again at the diagram on the overhead bin and yes, 6D was the window seat, and it was the one listed on my boarding pass. He started looking for his boarding pass. “Do you mean they gave us the same seat?” he mumbled, as he searched for his boarding pass. I did not want to hold up the long line of passengers and quickly said, “You know what, it doesn’t matter.” I hastily stowed my luggage under the seat in front of me and let the line move forward. It was no big deal. 

Or was it? Was I just conned into giving away my window seat? Why was I in such a hurry to give it up? I reflected on how many times I didn’t speak up when someone got in front of me in line or ignored my request. I remembered times I felt invisible to those around me. One part of me felt that giving up my seat wasn’t an issue. It was a short flight, and I had a book to read. Another part of me was livid because I felt manipulated, controlled, disrespected. Was I just trying to be nice?

We all want to be liked, accepted, and included. As a result, we don’t always say what we’re thinking. We often hold back from telling the whole truth so we don’t hurt someone’s feelings. We go out of our way to do things for others so they will approve of us. We suppress what we really think. We hold our tongues. We were taught: Little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. We are told to be seen and not heard. Don’t argue. Don’t yell. Don’t jump around so much. Don’t talk back. Don’t be greedy. Don’t get dirty. For goodness sake, just be nice!

We can learn to set boundaries and not be in such a hurry to give up our own good for the sake of others. It takes patience, as we learn to speak up for ourselves. The passenger in 6D was not the cause of my pain. If I felt empowered, I would be free to speak up and hold my ground knowing that was my seat. I would speak my truth rather than silence myself.

Are you ready to speak up, stand up, and show up for yourself?

Affirm: I am aware, alert and willing to take charge of my life.

Excerpt from Conscious Choices: A Women’s Guide to Clarity, Courage and Connection