This week I had a lovely e-mail, from a girl at university thanking me for helping her. I will admit that it made my cry. I am a wuss. But it was mainly because I was standing up for her because she was being treated badly.
We sit together in lectures. She is incredibly intelligent, funny and beautiful. She also has the most incredible legs you've ever seen! All of which I doubt she knows, or believes when people tell her. She is unassuming, quiet and maybe a little shy.
When she told me a few weeks back that a close family member had died I was devastated for her. She was hoping that she would be able to miss an exam (a coursework exam, not an end of year exam) to go to the funeral because unfortunately the two events clashed. The next day when I saw her she was visibly upset. The department had informed her that yes, she could miss the exam, but only if she provided a death certificate as proof. She didn't want to trouble her family at such a time, so was resigned to the fact that she would have to sit the exam.
Now I'm not very good with things like this. I was outraged for her. I specifically asked if she would like me to speak to the department for her but she declined. So, I was a bit naughty. After the lecture, I went away and thought for a moment, then went straight back to talk to the lecturer. I explained the situation and said how I felt it was extremely unfair that she was being treated like that when she was grieving. She is a good student. One who had got great results in the previous three exams.
Luckily for me the lecturer went straight to the department to try and sort it all out. I saw her later that day and confessed that I hadn't done what she had asked, indeed, I had done the opposite. I wasn't sure if it had helped though, I just hoped she would be able to go to the funeral.
After that I didn't see her again. Lectures were over and we just didn't bump into each other. This week she sent me such a lovely e-mail, saying that she was able to go to the funeral and thanking me because "she wouldn't have been able to do it without me". I was so relieved.
It made me think though. She definitely could have done it without me. That's not the point though, she should never have had to be in that situation. One where she was made to feel that she couldn't go to a family member's funeral. Seriously? That is just wrong.
There have been many times in my life when I haven't stood up for myself, even though I should have. I didn't have anyone to help me out but I have learnt not to be afraid to ask. To stand up for yourself and your beliefs should be something we don't even think about doing, it should be natural.
Whilst I think it is definitely something which comes with age and experience, I am so glad that I was there to help out someone who needed it. Please though, if you are treated badly, don't be afraid either to stick up for yourself, or to ask someone to do it for you.
There is another post to come about this. About when I finally learnt to stick up for myself, having been fired from a company because I had a miscarriage. Yes. Really.