My first summer job was at a battery company assembling and testing various battery designs. It was at the startup on a college campus where my brother had been interning. I don’t think I’ll ever forget about how unaware and lost I felt: feeling my way through my nerves and the logistics of how to behave, where to be, and even how to dress.
I quickly understood that there would be no horse playing and keeping the bench areas clear and clean would be priority. But I hadn’t prepared for any confrontations with my coworkers…
One day it was a scientist who came into the room to tell the interns to clean up after themselves. Someone had left the scale dirty and turned on. This person had continued for a week or two and it was getting to the point of negligence and sloppiness. The scientist continued with his reminders. Maybe an assumption due to being the youngest and maybe most inexperienced in the group, I was scolded for the first time on the job. Told to clean up and never do it again. I felt awful as I ended the day cleaning up after someone else. I was shamed because I did not say anything, I wished that someone else could or would have vouched for me.
I sat dejected as my brother drove us back home that evening. Not being able to hide how I felt I explained what happened.
"You should've said something. You need to learn to stand up for yourself, because he'll keep thinking it's your fault otherwise." Those words from my brother were so simple, and I found myself in them. No one will know the truth if you don't say anything, and no one will know if you don't try to communicate your intentions.
Being brave is stepping out of your comfort zone, it also means realizing what needs to be done and doing it.
I spoke when I was addressed for the same issue again the following week: "That isn't me, I always clean up the scale and turn it off when I am done."
"Oh. OK." was the response I received.
While this person had ever little impact in my time at the company I found that I wanted to continue on with being brave. I knew that at the end of the day the people that worked at the startup trusted and respected me more for being honest and direct. The world could be a little more understanding when we find it within ourselves to be brave.
I reaped the benefits of trust and respect for simply speaking clearly. However, I definitely think that this isn’t the only example of bravery… Feel free to share something in the comments about how you were brave.