In college, I had the opportunity to serve as a Resident Assistant.
It was a great job. I got my room and board for free, got to meet a lot awesome people, and learned a lot about my personal limits.
One of my responsibilities was nightly rounds through the building. I'd walk, with a partner, through the building twice a weeknight and three times on weekends (usually between the hours of 8pm and midnight). I was tasked with meeting residents, answering questions, and of course documenting any contract violations I saw.
Residents usually only keyed in on the third responsibility; and hated me for it.
One Dark Night
My worst night as an RA involved a single set of rounds that lasted from 8pm until 6am. While walking through a building, we smelled marijuana and had to check on the residents' safety and call the local public safety officers to confiscate any drug paraphernalia.
The call did not go well.
After knocking on the door, a gentleman stepped out of the room and immediately got in my face. He threatened me, my partner, and the women he'd left in the room. When the safety officers arrived, he started throwing punches and tried to throw a police officer through a window.
Several hours later, when identities had been confirmed, minors' parents had been notified, and my report had been written, I finally had time to let my heart rate calm down.
It was the most stressful night of my life - and I handled it fairly well.
One Rainy Morning
Yesterday, I ran into a similar situation.
After getting out of the car, a man approached me and asked for some change. I, honestly, didn't have any and said so. He asked for cash instead. Again, I said no.
Then, he asked for my wallet and credit cards.
I looked him in the eye, said no, told him to back off, and kept walking.
"Yo, I'm gonna drop you in a casket and **** on your face. You got me bro?"
I paused, looked at him again, and said no. I held my ground and this time, he was the one to step back.
"I was only kidding man. You got me? Nothing personal, you. You woulda been blessed. Nothing personal. Hey, you want a drink?"
I declined his flask and kept on to the office, making sure he didn't follow me in the building. Once the door clicked behind me, I again felt my heart rate go down considerably.
Protect Your Space
People will threaten you. They will threaten your possessions, your family, your very life.
Knowing who you are, where you stand, and being able to hold your ground when challenged is the difference between living and living in fear - the latter of which I would argue is no sort of living at all.
I refuse to live my life in fear of anyone - be it a thug on the street, a fanatic on the other side of the globe, or a clandestine government agency. We exist in a dangerous world, but we only live in the world if we choose to live without fear of that world - or to live in spite of the fear of that world.
When you're challenged, do you stand your ground? What kind of a challenge would make you back down? Would it take a government declaration? A religious statement? A random guy on the street demanding your wallet?
Where do you draw the line between your space - the space you defend and fight for - and the space of others?