The Sweet Conundrum.

The word that often dogs my heels, like some snuggly, obliging puppy, is "sweet." If I had a dollar for every time a co-worker has told me, "You're such a sweet girl," I would probably have enough money to quit my job and live on that alone. (I exaggerate only slightly.) When a fellow teacher found out I was going to be teaching 9th graders for this first time this year, she exclaimed, "Ooh, your freshmen are going to love you because you're just so sweet!" Sure enough, shortly after meeting my freshmen students, they began cooing, "You're so sweet, Ms. Simon."

But in the face of all this positive name-calling, I am often left nonplussed. It bewilders me because I don't know how to take it. Do I say thank you? Smile (sweetly, of course)? Bat my eyelashes and duck my head like that blushing dwarf, Bashful, from Snow White?

I just never know how to react.

And the funny thing is that I have found myself feeling obligated to live up to my "name." When my co-workers ask me for favors, I feel bad saying no, because of my reputation for being "sweet." When my students ask me for extensions on assignments, I often give in -- you know, because they think I'm. Well... You know.

The problem is that the word "sweet" often has a flip-side. It's called "push-over." And that's one flip-side I don't want to visit. But how do I say no to my co-workers, to my students, to people in general, without failing their expectations of me? Without being called the dreaded "b" word, the very antithesis to sweet?

You see my conundrum, reader.

I guess I just have to find that happy medium -- the place where sweetness and confidence both reside. Where it's fine not to agree with people's opinions or expectations. Especially of me. Where it's okay to say no. So long as you say it with a (sweet) smile.

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What name(s) follow you, reader? And how do you deal with the built-in expectations that come with it?

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2 comment(s):

Asheyna said...

Hehe, I think you answered your own conundrum. It's ok to say no, as long as you smile sweetly while doing it. ;)

Annie Cristina said...

Yeah, that's the great thing about writing -- it helps you figure things out through the process sometimes. (: