There was once a girl named Priya, and Priya was perfect. A first generation immigrant, Priya was gainfully employed, had two children, and was married to the love of her life. And she was having an affair. The affair was with a man who Priya said she would never want to date, let alone marry– he’s a trucker who doesn’t have direction in life, unless the directions you want are to taco bell.
The obvious question is “why?”. If Priya has everything she wants, why would she have an affair? It has nothing to do with her husband and everything to do with Priya. According to her therapist, Priya said that she never rebelled. She did everything that was expected of her. She was perfect. And now she wants to see: if I’m bad, will I still be loved?
That question got me thinking. I am in no way trying to defend her affair, but I think the question, “if I do something bad, will I still be loved?” is very poignant. Like Priya, many people never rebel. Heck, I never rebelled. I would look at high schoolers who colored their hair or pierced their tongues with a kind of scientific curiosity. Same with the people who got drunk at parties and found random guys there to do forgettable (sometimes regrettable) things with. In large part, I’ve never wanted to rebel.
But sometimes I wonder. What is a healthy way to rebel? Take my sister, for example. A few years ago, she wanted a second piercing, so she did it herself with a needle and the fierce determination that only a teen could have. If a place has a “do not enter” sign on it, she is the first to go in. She had a boyfriend even back in middle school. Anyone I think of has done something rebellious, actually. Maybe they grew a mullet. Or they went swimming with sharks. Maybe they bought a motorcycle (this is my stepdad– he is the same guy who had a mullet).
I thought long and hard. I realized I only ever did what was expected of me. Going to college at age 14 was the only unusual thing I ever did, and that’s hardly rebellion. That’s doing what’s expected of you, just at a much younger age. Dang it, I thought. I’ve never rebelled. And I really wanted to rebel because I didn’t want to end up like Priya one day– rebelling in a bad way because I was never allowed to have little rebellions along the way. On my way up the million subway stairs (side note: why do subways have SO MANY STAIRS?), I mulled it over. I’ve always wanted to have reddish hair, but I’ve only ever dyed it with henna, and it never stuck. I considered getting a second piercing like my sister and then realized it wasn’t my taste.
I ended up doing one of my group therapy sessions on healthy risks and healthy acts of rebellion. I’ll be honest– no one had too much to say on this topic. Although one group member mentioned sky diving, many more admitted to not wanting to take risks. They wanted stability. I realized that they didn’t have a need for rebellion– many of them had already gotten it out of their systems during addiction.
This blog post sat in my drafts for a while because I was so unaccustomed to rebelling that I didn’t know how to start. But today, it hit me. I need to let myself be more assertive. People react better to crying or sadness from women than they do to anger. But I think that my healthy act of rebellion will be to allow myself to feel anger sometimes, because anger helps me act assertively.
This weekend, my boyfriend and I went on a fun trip to San Diego. When we got to our room, though, we noticed that the refrigerator was not working, and that a pool of slimy goo at the bottom had already coated most of our produce. The hotel reported that they would send maintenance, but no maintenance cometh. Considering my possible reactions to this situation, I realized that anger was at the forefront. With anger comes assertiveness. So, I marched my 5 foot nothing self over to the lobby to give the worker a stern talking-to. A few moments later, there was a knock on our door. A new, working refrigerator arrived.
Could I have finagled money for different produce or gotten a discount on our room? Probably. But, in the meantime, I got some assertiveness training. So, assertiveness will be my goal from now on. As my grandma says: “don’t let anybody step on your tail!”