Updated: a day ago
It is no coincidence that women who are vocal about what they will or won't tolerate from people often get called dragon ladies, unfeeling, bitchy and other colourful terms. You say "yes" and "no" with conviction and they think it's a fight.
In pre-school, I was one of the chocolate chips in the cookie dough. They say you can forget what someone said to you, but you never forget how they made you feel. An incident on the playground made me acutely aware that I was black, spoke broken English and therefore was 'strange'; the rest of my childhood was spent being an overly friendly doormat in a bid to prove that I am in fact worthy of being counted in.
I don't hesitate to make my boundaries clear now. A lot of friendships have changed and a lot have been lost, but nobody can say they don't know where they stand with me. My 6-year-old self would be proud.
Even so, that feeling of wanting to be liked never really goes away. There'll always be that residual guilt when drawing the line. Maybe also reluctance to be seen as a dragon lady.
But I promise, being your own champion will always trump that. I promise.
By Pink Plume