This I believe, “Know Thyself”. These two little words, borrowed from Socrates, were inscribed in my high school autograph album almost fifty years ago. Somehow, over my lifetime, I lost the message and with it the ability to be true to myself, to speak up for myself, to do what I wanted to do. I lost the belief in my own judgment, that I knew what worked for me, and I allowed my wishes to become secondary to my need to avoid confrontations.
I realized that this was happening, but remained unable to change. It was almost easier to go along with the flow. Several years ago my husband began planning a trip to Southeast Asia. He was so enthusiastic about that trip, consulting travel books lined up on his night table for months, convincing another couple to travel with us, arranging airline schedules, planning itineraries with exotic sights and unfamiliar places that intrigued him. He convinced me that I would love this experience, and I allowed myself to believe him.
I knew in my soul that I did not want to go on the trip. I did not want to endure an airplane flight of thirty hours, did not want to take a malaria pill, did not want to expose myself to avian flu. I really had no desire to travel to that part of the world. I am not the fearless adventuresome traveler my husband is. I am timid, cautious, have a sensitive stomach, muscles that ache easily, and a cranky disposition when sleep deprived. I am truly happiest at home.
I hesitated telling my husband my true feelings. Instead, I stalled and stalled until one day, I felt a surge of power that made my mouth form the words to calmly announce, “I am not going to Vietnam”. Words I had been afraid to say, afraid to disappoint him, afraid to burst his bubble, afraid, afraid, afraid. When the words were spoken, and hovering around in the air, I felt relieved. It was out, it was finally out. I felt right. I felt strong. I felt free.
I regret that it took me so long to speak up. My husband was furious. We did not speak to each other for days after my declaration. Doors were slammed a little harder than necessary. Meals were eaten silently. Hostility hung angrily in the air. However, I learned a valuable lesson. Speak up, believe in your instincts, do it sooner rather than later, and truly know thyself.
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