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  • Writer's pictureLisa Rousseau

I want to take some time to talk about standing up for ourselves and why it's important. We all have situations that happen to us that "don't feel right" and we think, "this is wrong," or "why is this being allowed to happen?" Those are the situations for which we need to take a stand and speak up, even if it's uncomfortable.

The first situation in which I stood up for myself and spoke up was when I was four and being sexually abused by the man I thought was my father who I just recently found out was actually not my father. Most children can't comprehend what is happening or being so little they don't understand what is happening is wrong, most times they are being abused by someone they trust and they just trust that what is happening to them is supposed to happen, that it's normal. For me I guess it didn't seem normal and so I told my teachers who told the police and action was taken. Unfortunately most of the time that doesn't happen... I think this situation in particular is what helped me speak my mind and stand up for myself and others when I knew something was happening that shouldn't be happening. So many times growing up I would tell my friends, "I'm going to tell so and so this is happening," and almost always they would ask me not to and then what happens is the situation gets worse. I work in retail, I'm an assistant manager and I find it so upsetting that my employees have something going on between other associates and they don't tell us so the situation gets worse, so worse until it's too late. I tell them all the time, "If you don't tell us we can't help you and fix the situation." The problem is they are scared they will get in trouble.

Many years ago I was working at a retail store, patiently waiting to be promoted to assistant manager. I had done my time, I put in all the work, time after time I did what I was told to do to move up. One day I was put into an impossible situation where someone confided in me and there was a situation at hand and when I brought it up to management I was the one who got in trouble for it, even though the situation had nothing to do with me. I tried to fix it by bringing the situation to management but I suppose it was the wrong thing to do, even though it wasn't. The situation should have been dealt with but it wasn't. I've found that most people don't like confrontation, so they ignore situations that are uncomfortable. That does NOT fix the situation, it makes it SO much worse. Eventually I left that retail store because there was a key carrier who got promoted in our store and she did a lot of things that violated company policy and time after time I complained and nothing happened. I left because I couldn't work with someone who didn't have my back and had no integrity. I left because after four years of being turned down for assistant manager it was clear to me that the district manager had no intention on promoting me. I had an interview with a different store in the company and was offered assistant manager the next day. It's not worth staying in a toxic place, no matter how much you want to stay, when you know it's time, it's time.

Throughout my career I have had many things happen and at one time I had reached my breaking point. Companies have an HR department for a reason and I was at a point when I needed to reach out. Many of my colleagues thought I was crazy and that I was risking my job, but I needed to make a stand, I needed someone to know what was happening in our building and I needed them to understand that it was not okay. The first time I called was a year or so into being promoted to assistant manager in my new store. When you speak to your HR department there are to be no repercussions and no retaliation. Well the very next day I was called by my district manager asking why I called HR- not okay. Without going into too much detail you should be able to speak openly about problems that you are having at work because no one should be working in a place where you feel uncomfortable or taken advantage of, or not appreciated. When you start feeling those things, it's time to talk about it because if you don't, it's only going to get worse and those feelings are going to turn into resentment, anger and frustration. I'm not talking about work place only, this is still true for your personal life. Your relationships with friends and family, your marriage... etc.

I was listening to a Podcast Girlboss Radio and it was an episode with Sophia Bush and she was talking about why it's important to stand up for yourself and so many times throughout the episode I was like yes, that's exactly what I'm talking about! She mentions getting up in the morning and when your alarm goes off and your first thought is agh and when the thought of going into work or class makes you miserable and you have to drag yourself throughout the day and the whole day you're wondering when you're going to get to leave, then you're not in an environment that is good for you and I could not agree more. She also mentions that there are people who are stuck in a job they don't like or a situation and they can't just transfer to another department, but it's really important to acknowledge how you feel and if something is really bothering you where you can find strength in the immediate moment is beginning to create your exit. Figure out how you're going to get out of the situation you're in and make yourself a plan and that's where your strength will come from and to know that it won't happen over night but it's the first step in taking control.

This podcast was really eye-opening and inspiring for me because I related to everything she said. Another topic she talked about was speaking out and how she feels that speaking out is why she exists and how it's not a side hustle and how she's not here to be complicit in anyway, that's not what she came to this planet to do. I think it's important for us to speak out about the things we are passionate about, how we're feeling, not to repress everything. If you want to listen to the podcast here's the link:

Bottom line- this is your life and if something is interfering with you living your best life, it's time to take charge and make a change and the first step is standing up for yourself and talking about it. If it's not fun anymore, it's time for a change. If you don't speak up, it's not going to get fixed. If you speak up and nothing changes, it's time to leave... I know it's not so simple but in the end you have to do what is best for YOU.


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