By Tymmarah Anderson
I like to argue. To be honest, I’m pretty good at it. Something about peeling back an argument’s sleeve until its core is exposed gets me super hyped. What I’m not good at: saying “no”. My background in research makes it almost impossible for me to ignore a claim with no basis. But sometimes, no matter how much you’ve disproven something, some people will never admit that they may have overlooked the facts. It’s a pride thing — I get it. It’s never easy to admit you’re wrong.
But it’s not my daily debates about human rights issues that threaten my energy. I spent 4 years in college mastering how to have those. It’s the arguments that challenge my character and compassion that I have a hard time backing down from. When it’s a healthy dialogue, I’m down to talk all day. And that’s not to say we agree, but there’s a safe space present for both parties to articulate their perspectives. When you add passive-aggressiveness, gaslighting, and all the other toxic characteristics of a conversation-gone-bad…I gotta opt-out.
In the past, it’s been hard for me to ignore contentious conversations, but lately, I’ve chosen not to engage. I gotta say, I wish I did this way sooner. My instinct is to talk it out, advocate for myself, come to some common ground — but at what cost? I would rather walk away than risk acting out of character or draining my energy because I choose to argue with someone who ultimately isn’t looking to hear me out. Initially, it feels like you’re backing down and your ego will try to push you to engage. But eventually, you realize there’s power in being aware of your emotional state (and theirs), and choosing to walk away.
It’s okay to protect your peace; it’s okay to say “no” — and beware of people who try to make you feel guilty about doing so. Not wanting to engage in a hostile conversation doesn’t make you selfish, it makes you smart.
Tymmarah Anderson is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC.