I have always been the bubbly type of female. The one who is always smiling and, as I’ve been told, had a laugh that could brighten up anyone’s day. My name in Spanish means “to smile” and I have always been told I live up to it as it is very rare to see me not grinning about something. I always loved my happy and positive demeanor, until I learned that many times people will mistake my smile and kind nature for weakness…big mistake.

I am one who constantly tells others to be themselves no matter what the world has to say about you, but I learned that when you are a genuinely kind and light spirited person that at times you have to turn it off in order to be taken seriously. Small things like how people responded to me when I said no to something or tried to get serious about a particular topic opened up my eyes to this. They were so used to the smiling, happy Risa that they didn’t have as much respect for when I put my foot down as others who always seemed to have a “don’t mess with me” sign on their head. Sadly it wasn’t until I really went off on someone that people realized that when I said something I meant it. Just because I love to smile and laugh, doesn’t make me any weaker than the person who doesn’t. I have dealt with this in the workplace and with friends. At some point I had to switch it up on someone to let them know I was not the one to be played with.

I constantly wondered why some of the most successful women I knew were so kind and sweet with some and with others they were a straight faced, let’s get to business type of woman. This is when I began to realize that you have to have two sides to yourself. The playful gleeful side and the side that can turn someone to stone with the look in your eyes. I learned that it’s not what you say, but the way you say it.

Respect is ridiculously important and a sweet personality shouldn’t overshadow that, but often times it does. I finally learned how to create that balance so that it is understood that my kindness should never be taken for weakness. I can now switch it on and off effortlessly.

People only say and do to you what you allow them to. You don’t have to walk around looking mad all the time, but you can put people in their place when you feel some sort of disrespect and even do it with a smile.


Have you ever had to deal with this?

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