What I learnt about myself when I stopped being a pushover

Nirwa Mehta
4 min readDec 29, 2023

After being a pushover all your life, you one fine day decide enough is enough and choose to preserve your mental peace. You realise that you have always been the giver in all your relationship — including with friends and even colleagues, and there was no reciprocation or very little effort from their side. I have always been the one to keep my feelings to myself or choose to escape addressing my feelings. I always found it a better way than to deal with them.

That, of course, stems from years of anxiety and self doubt. The feeling of not being ‘good enough’ and the constant need to please people so that I don’t end up offending them. Or causing any inconvenience to them.

This year, I decided to talk about my feelings with some of my close friends. Something I had never done before. I always thought talking about some problematic relationships or troubled relationships with friends will make me vulnerable or open to judgement. This, when I have tried to be around them when they needed a shoulder to cry on, without being judging them. I always thought it is my duty as a friend to be there for them and also make sure not to burden them with my problems. My problems are mine alone to deal with.

Except, when I did speak to my friends it deepened our bond. They had had similar experiences, they knew how I felt, and they empathised. It was liberating. It was liberating to talk about actual feelings and emotions and not just mindless jokes I would indulge in to deflate. I have developed humour as a coping mechanism over the years and it has perhaps kept me slight sane.

What is liberating is also speaking to friends, those who offer you a hug and that comfort of telling you you are not alone and they are not bailing out on you like many people you considered friends as.

Some of my concerns about sharing also stemmed from the fact that earlier the moment I would get close enough to a friend to be slight vulnerable, they’d ghost me. The agonising days, weeks, months and many times years, I spent wondering what the fuck went wrong is insane.

Then recently on Instagram I read a quote that not getting a closure is also a closure and that was like lightbulb moment for me. How come I didn’t think of that. To make peace with myself, this is true. That not everything is in my control especially how the other person behaves. I can only control how I react to that.

And then I decided to not seek answers. I figured if I am the only one reaching out and being there for people while they go ahead and ghost me, despite sometimes knowing about my vulnerabilities, for my peace of mind and stopping myself from spiralling into a vicious cycle of self doubt and hate, I stopped reaching out.

It was not even a ‘trick’ to see if absence makes heart grow fonder. I am not those manipulative kinds. It is a juvenile thing to do and only those who are not properly functional adults resort to manipulation tactics. I chose to just protect myself from further heartache.

This year I distanced myself from one narcissistic and toxic individual about whom I shall talk about some day. People close to me are aware and many have been very supportive and am forever grateful to them for listening to me while I cried and provided words of comfort without telling me ‘oh stop being so sensitive’ — something I am told since childhood whenever I displayed ‘feelings’.

Because apparently, having feelings is a bad thing. To be hurt, to love, to feel happy — I am still often told ‘why are you laughing so loudly’. Why is my loud laughter bothering you so much that you have to make me conscious about it and ‘laugh properly’ to fit in.

But then I stopped laughing in front of those people. So now I am questioned ‘why are you so angry’. Umm. I am not angry. I very rarely get angry. I am terrified of angry people. So if my loud laughter makes you angry, I will not laugh loudly around you.

Similarly, I also decided to stop being the only giver. If there are series of unanswered messages for weeks, without any sort of an effort to reach out, I will choose peace of mind over hours of ‘what happened’. It would be sad to let go of friends like that, but it is a two-way street — I understand imbalances in efforts put — and that is absolutely normal. But not this one-sided effort to cling on to relationships.

And most important lesson I learnt is to be comfortable just being alone. It is scary, but its okay. You eventually do make friends with your internal demons and they’re a great company to have. (See? Humour is a great coping mehanism.)

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Nirwa Mehta

#Writer. I'm here to create a dent in the universe. I believe in satire. I'm an acquired taste. #INFP #awesome फासला रखे, कहीं प्यार न हो जाए।