I’m tired of being polite


Julia Smeltzer

KC Editor Angela Tessitore letting out some pent up frustration-we all know the feeling!

Most of my life I have been giving forced smiles and fake laughs while biting my tongue for the sake of someone else’s feelings and comfortability, and I’m tired of it.

Ever since my sophomore year, I have worked at Olive Garden, a family restaurant in North Wales. And for the past two years, not a shift goes by without me getting unnecessary comments by male guests, specifically older men. This happens to females everywhere, no matter where they are. In a place where I work, where I am supposed to feel safe and comfortable to do my job, I get fairly gross and inappropriate comments by older men that in all actuality, degrades me as a person and distracts me from doing my job. I’m not saying that these kinds of things will ever stop because it won’t. It happens every single day in any situation to women everywhere.

But what do I do when this happens to me at work? I laugh. I smile. I don’t defend myself. I simply let it happen over and over again. I let it happen because in my mind, staying quiet makes them more comfortable in that situation, which isn’t fair. I hate confrontation because I’d rather bite my tongue then create a scene, especially in my workplace. This isn’t a problem only I face, girls everywhere my age, younger and older, have experienced this or will experience this at some point, it is the world we live in, except that men will never most likely never have to experience what women go through when this happens. I think we smile and let it happen because that is the easiest thing to do to move the situation along and to get on with your day, even if it degrades who we are as young women. From a young age, girls are told to “smile” and to “sit pretty” and “act like a lady,” but we aren’t taught how to stand up for ourselves and to be strong because if a woman is assertive, that makes her “bossy” or anything less than a lady.

The next time this happens, I’m not going to spit in their chicken parmesan or take a bite out of their breadsticks, but I’m going to stick up for myself and the millions of other girls this happens to daily.

Outside of work, I still face this same problem at school. I’m not being harassed by old men when I’m at school, but I do face challenges in my own classrooms. As some may know, I am the editor of the Yearbook, and it takes a lot of work. With a staff compiled of only around 10 students, every member of the staff is tasked with the job to create a 300-page book that highlights the school year. My responsibility besides creating pages is checking over everyone else’s pages to look over the font, pictures, captions and much more. I am also responsible for creating layouts, themes, designs, and collaborating with the other editors and staff. Every staff member is valuable to the making of the yearbook, and without anyone in that class, my job would be a lot harder than it already is. But with any leadership position, you need to be able to put your foot down on certain things if they aren’t getting done the right way. 

At the beginning of the year, the staff struggled to get in a groove, which is understandable, but when the whole book is due at the end of March, every day counts and can’t be wasted. As the editor, I found it hard to put my foot down on certain things and be assertive out of the fear of being labeled as bossy or mean by my peers. When anyone on the staff gets criticism, we are told not to take it personally, but a little part of me is scared that if I try to fix something or change something, someone will take it personally and that isn’t my intention because I value everyone on the staff. The yearbook is something important to me, and it is a lot of pressure on myself and the staff to deliver a book that highlights everyone in the school, so I need to start being more assertive to make sure we are delivering the best product to the students and staff who already purchased a book. 

Whether it is being harassed by old men in the middle of Olive Garden or struggling to successfully lead a yearbook staff, I realize that my opinions and my voice needs to be heard where it matters most, to stand up for myself and others—no more fake smiles and laughs while biting my tongue for the sake of someone else. I’ve learned that I can stand up for myself without being rude, and I can be a leader without being labeled as bossy, and it only took me about 17 years. No more fake smiles and laughs while biting my tongue for the sake of someone else.