Pride and Prejudice: A Lesson Long in the Making

20150127_133425Hello Blogosphere! My name is Isaiah Frisbie and I am honored to be the writer for Pride and Prejudice. As a freshman myself, I came to Brown with a number of questions, many of which were answered within a matter of weeks while others remain open-ended. Perhaps one of the more enduring questions, one that may continue to be answered throughout the entirety of my Brown career, is how my own sexuality will affect my college experience. So, I have taken it upon myself to use this blog to contribute any kind of insight that I can about LGBTQ life at Brown and hopefully, in some way, help any student, prospective or otherwise, put some of those nagging worries to rest.

So, we’re back. After a month of binge-watching Netflix and basking in an utter lack of academic obligation, I am once again expected to be a productive member of society and go to lecture. Nevertheless, there is something very exciting and almost nostalgic about being back. Dare I say it? I missed school. Yes, I know; cue the dramatic turning of the head and horrified gasp. All jokes aside, being away for almost a month made me realize just how attached and acclimated I had become to college life.

As I’ve said before in my posts, college is definitely a time of transition and growth. It’s a glimpse into a life of adulthood and self-sufficiency. Establishing oneself in such a drastically different environment is bound to impose or inspire some kind of change on our part. I am no exception.

Perhaps one of the greatest lessons I have learned here is one that no lecture or discussion group could have taught me. One of the few things that I actually take pride in is the fact that I consider myself a generally kind and genuine person. I promise this is not me trying to be arrogant or self-congratulatory. It might be more appropriate to say that in any and all instances, I do my best to be as compassionate, empathetic, and accommodating as I possibly can. However, in doing so, I sometimes found myself compromising my own needs or desires. I never really felt as though I was sacrificing too much because at least my efforts were going toward a sincere cause.

Now that I’m in college, I’ve realized that I’m arriving at the point in my life where I have to be confident in and content with both the person that I am and the decisions I make. I should be able to stand by the choices I make without feeling guilty for doing so. In other words, I have to learn to assert myself. This has always been a shortcoming of mine. I have always had trouble asserting myself because I mistakingly equated assertiveness with being inflexible or rude.

I understand now that there is a difference between being accommodating and being a doormat.

There is nothing wrong with standing up for yourself. There is nothing wrong with addressing something when it bothers you. Yes, it’s a virtue to be tactful. It’s a great skill to know when to hold your tongue and understand when to pick your battles. On the other hand, there is something rather wrong with internalizing everything. There is something very wrong with not speaking up.

As I have said before, I am gay and am more than comfortable with that part of my identity. However, my sexuality is not my most defining factor and it is not the one with which I most predominantly identify. I am so much more than my sexuality.

However, in the first few weeks back, there was a situation in which a few friends very close to me began catching up on their…um…how do I phrase this?…. “Gay joke quota?” What I mean is that with all of us being apart for so long, there weren’t many opportunities to poke fun at my sexuality. Granted, these were occasional and they were usually not ill-intentioned. I have a sense of humor and I was all for them. I can take a joke. Still, within those first few weeks back, I found that these jokes were occurring on a rather frequent basis and I was actually beginning to feel attacked by those very close to me. There were simply so many jokes that I felt as though I had become some kind of “gay punching bag,” which I was not okay with.

My first inclination was to internalize it and move on. I knew they weren’t intentionally trying to hurt me and thus felt no need to address the matter. However, I soon found that doing so was affecting my relationship with them. Eventually, they could tell something was bothering me. I contested, promised that they were wrong. I vowed that I was fine. Finally, I realized holding my tongue wasn’t the solution and I confessed my hurt feelings. They had no idea just how much their jokes were affecting me and as good friends do, they immediately apologized.

Therefore, the moral of the story is that I now understand the value in asserting myself. I didn’t like their jokes. I felt as though all I had become was their gay friend at whom they could throw joke after joke. That wasn’t the kind of “friendship” I wanted. I asserted my position, and the situation was finally resolved. It was good to know that being assertive could lead to the kind of outcome I wanted, something I had once considered implausible.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about what I should post next, please don’t hesitate to email me at isaiah_frisbie@brown.edu.

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