I like to pretend I’m tough. I like to dress up in rocker tees, big jewelry, get tattoos, and load on the black eyeliner. Because that makes me look and feel tough, and when the pedal really hits the medal, I am not really all that tough. I can’t watch tv shows where people die. Unless, of course, they are coming back as a vampire or werewolf. Because that’s just cool. I’ve never been good at confrontation. In fact, when I’ve had to do those kinds of things in the past, I typically can’t breathe while I’m saying what has to be said and then I just dissolve into tears afterwards. No, I would say when it comes to being tough or tender, I am firmly in the “tender” camp.
I volunteered at the thrift store that supports my kids’ school today, because first of all, that means I get to shop while doing it (bonus) and also I need to log in some hours to support their school. I’m happy to do it. I may have bought a few things in the process, we cannot be certain ;) When I came in and put on my “Volunteer” name tag, the manager oriented me to the store (even though she knows I know the store pretty darn well!) and she said, “just don’t be rude to people”. I laughed and told her that I wasn’t sure I knew how to be rude to people and she kind of cocked her head and looked at me…saying: “yeah…I can’t really imagine you being rude at all…” She then went on to say that it was easy for her to be not so nice to people. Have you noticed that people are usually one or the other? Tough OR tender? I’ve met a few people who are both, but they’re more rare than the either/or people. Like me.
Whatever we are, we usually have to work on the opposite. I have to work on being tough. Constantly. With my kids, with my business, heck, even when I order food and they get it wrong. I am so NOT into confrontation that I would most definitely chose the path of least resistance when it comes to the potential for hurting people’s feelings. But since that is no way to live and is obviously a super ineffective parenting method, I have to work on the opposite. However, I have known lots of people who are like, ready to GO all the time. You know, the ones who get excited when they hear that there might be a problem and they’re ready to defend anyone, anywhere, over anything. They have to work on being tender. It’s like…if they could see more from the other person’s perspective and if I could maybe pay attention to my OWN perspective for once…we could meet in the middle and be tough AND tender. The sweet spot.
It’s hard and often painful to do things that are out of our nature. I mean, the times I’ve had to confront people for work or something, I have waited until it was ABSOLUTELY necessary to do so. I ran through what I had to do, I had people help me come up with what needed to be said. And yet, in the moment, I felt like I was dragging my nails across a chalkboard or trying to breathe under water (actually kind of literally on that last one!). I can imagine, for a person who finds confrontation quite easy, it might feel the same NOT jumping up and dealing with what’s bugging them, and instead listening and letting something go. I’ve experienced this over and over again, and yet it always seems to apply no matter what’s going on in my life: the path of least resistance is not always the best place to be. I don’t go looking for confrontation or difficulty (I think we’ve established that already!) but I also don’t automatically assume that when things are hard or don’t feel natural, that I’m in the wrong place. Because if that were the case, I would literally NEVER do anything new, ever.
I found these Blank NYC faux leather bells on Poshmark for a great deal, and I had to have them. I mean, they’re like so Grease meets hippie vibes. And I really loved the idea of wearing a kind of lumberjack vintage flannel with them. Super tough! One of the most special things about this outfit though, is my necklace. It belonged to the most tough and tender woman I have ever known and I am beyond honored to own something of hers. Myself and a lot of other people lost her recently and she reminds me still to love people relentlessly but to never back down, ever. And now, I gotta figure out how to breathe under water… :)
Happy Wednesday…hope you’re being tough when you need to be and tender when it counts!