The anti-Karen

One of the long-running jokes about Amy among her friends (and can I just say how happy I am that she has friends now?) is that she unleashes her “inner Karen” on people who deserve it.

In case you’re not familiar with the meme, “Karen” is usually a middle-aged white lady who has had it with everybody’s shit and she’s not gonna take it anymore. Most often, you’ll find her asking to speak with the manager. Karen is assertive, loud, and kind of intimidating. She has a great air of entitlement. She doesn’t back down no matter what when she feels she is in the right.

Amy has had this trait since she was a little kid and it has some great applications, though it was also sometimes challenging for me as a parent. I’m very proud that she’s so good at sticking up for herself. She also points out that she never unleashes a tirade against first-tier customer service people or wait staff because they’re not the source of the problem and don’t have the power to fix it. But she is not shy about escalating matters when she thinks an injustice has been committed. Now when her friends have billing disputes, eBay transactions gone awry, etc., they all say: “let Amy handle this one.”

At dinner, when we were discussing this, I asked Amy if I was a Karen. After all, I am indeed a middle-aged white lady. To my surprise, she replied, “Definitely not. You’re like the anti-Karen, like Karen negative times a hundred.”

To be honest, I don’t know if I should be flattered or insulted. But it’s true: I hate fighting so much that it takes a lot for me to get worked up enough that I’m yelling at managers—even if something legitimately unfair has been done to me. I try hard to be the type of person that people describe as kind, thoughtful, and generous.

I guess I can and do make a big deal when I feel it’s truly necessary, but I try to make sure that happens as rarely as possible. If it’s something that can’t even be changed, I don’t see the point of mentioning it, both because I hate the conflict so much and it often seems easier just to suck it up and accept it.

At the same time, though, maybe this is something I need to bring up in therapy. I’m seeing a lot of benefits from therapy in my self-esteem and ability to tolerate fear and anxiety. But I haven’t really addressed the fact that I’m not very assertive. And truth be told, that’s part of the boundaries issue—in the sense that mine are often poor. As a result, I’ve tolerated a lot of downright abusive behavior because I wasn’t assertive enough to put a stop to it.

Maybe I need to learn a little bit more from Amy about how to find and unleash my own inner Karen.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks, Jus! I’ll look into it. I tried reading another book titled “Boundaries” that’s supposed to be a classic, but it was too Christian-oriented for me.

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