I'm in my thirties, it's time I acted like it

For as long as I can remember, I would see women in magazines and on TV talking about how once they entered their thirties that they really came into their own.  They had a better sense of themselves and more confidence in daily situations.  I’ve always had a pretty good sense of myself but I’ve definitely lacked the confidence.  It’s hard to overcome my need to please people and I often do that in spite of myself.  It’s okay if I’m unhappy, as long as others around me aren’t. This does lend itself to being treated like a wallflower on occasion and where it didn’t used to bother me so much, it definitely bothers me now.

I feel more of a need to stick up for myself now.  I’m going to be 32 in a little over a month and it’s long past time I started putting myself out there as a confident and contented person.  Someone told me this last week that people will treat me the way I let myself be treated.  If I allow people to walk all over me, to trample my feelings, then they will.  You almost can’t blame them for it, as they wouldn’t do it if I didn’t let them.  If I didn’t just sit back and allow my feelings to be hurt without putting up a fuss.

Still, it so goes against my nature.  I’ve never been the sort to put up much of a fuss.  And, plainly put, I’m not really good at it.  Sometimes, things get to out of control, that I will bottle it up until it comes exploding out.  Or, more commonly, in my effort keep people happy, then no one is happy and more feelings are hurt.  Just the situation I was looking to avoid in the first place.  And honestly, I don’t know what to do to prevent this.  I have no knowledge of how to handle situations of conflict with any sort of grace.  How to stick up for myself without making a bigger mess.

I guess now you can see why I try to avoid conflict altogether.

So does anyone have any coping mechanisms they’d like to share?  How can I be a stronger, more confident person without causing more trouble?  If someone has done something that I feel is a deliberate slap in the face, how can I stand up for myself with grace and dignity and, believe it or not, kindness?  Is that even possible?