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I'm 'Soft' and Proud of It

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Water in its liquid form can’t be described as hard, but it possesses undeniable strength when it’s unleashed. It has a quiet, formidable strength. It’s the same with people. Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of comments like “I’m too soft,” or my personality is “quite timid.” And what really catches me off guard is how these comments come from people who have no idea who I truly am or the things I’ve overcome.

Come to think of it, why do people associate softness with weakness? When a person speaks softly, it doesn’t mean that person is timid or weak. It means this person has a full understanding of how their words can impact the person on the receiving end. The tone of a person can completely change the meaning of his statement. The tone of a person can trigger someone who is struggling with anxiety. A tone of a person can start a misunderstanding.

Speaking softly can mean you are being considerate of the person you are talking to because you don’t know how the person may be feeling or how sensitive the person is. I speak softly because I am that person who gets triggered with aggressive, intimidating voices, and I don’t want others to feel that way when they are speaking to me.

Our voice and the way we speak are a part of our personality. You may speak a certain way to hide your insecurities or to appear more confident than how you truly feel. Or, you may speak a certain way to avoid making people feel the things you have when people don’t take any consideration of you. Or simply, we speak a certain way because that is how we really feel and speaking is our way to release our emotions and share them with others. I don’t see anything wrong with any of this, it is simply based on an individual.

What I think is wrong is asking the person to change the way they speak without knowing anything about them just to fit a standard you have in mind. You are asking to change a part of themselves for what? For your convenience? For your preference? And what about the person you are asking this from? Did you take the time to consider why the person speaks that way? Or if there is anything you can do to adjust? Did you stop for a minute to think that maybe your mindset needs to change?

Our times have shaped our thinking that to live, you need to be tough. That’s how you survive in this world. This is especially true in our culture. Any sign of softness and emotion is often seen as a sign of weakness. Children are not encouraged to express their feelings. This comes from good intentions since they hope children will grow up being able to face the world, all its injustice and judgment, all on their own. One thing I’ve learned is accepting your emotions and letting yourself be vulnerable is much harder than being tough.

Fully understanding how you feel and letting people see through that is not something they taught me as a child. But, this is vital for me to be able to connect with people. One of the keys to understanding someone is sharing how you feel, learning how they feel, sharing your point of view and trying to see from their point of view, too. This is not possible without being vulnerable. You need to open yourself up so you can accept them and they can accept you, too.

This is soft as something positive. It means no matter how hard life was on you, it wasn’t enough to make you skeptical of the world. The inner child in you survived. How different would life be if we could be soft with one another? If we can be vulnerable without being judged? Maybe then we wouldn’t be surviving, but living. Maybe then we can be humans with feelings and there won’t be any shame in that.

Next time someone tells me that I’m too soft, I’m not going to apologize. All the challenges I have faced were enough for me to be like the water — soft, strong, powerful. I didn’t need to change into ice to go through those battles. I am soft and I will always be.

Getty image by VectorMine

Originally published: June 5, 2021
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