Embracing Softness

waterI am in the process of unlearning something that I have believed to be true for all of my adult life.

That “softness” in its various forms is undesirable.

The place this is most overt is in the fitness world.  Having your physique described as “soft” is pretty much always a criticism.  Soft is equivalent to under-conditioned and undisciplined.  People strive to be hard, lean, ripped, muscular, and jacked.  I have never once heard someone say he or she was pursuing a softer body.

I have come to realize that this bias against softness extends to the real world.  Not just physically soft, but in heart and mind.  Broken hearts and failed relationships will teach you to guard your feelings and to build up walls when it comes to caring about other people.  Society will tell you that everyone has a hidden agenda, trust should always be earned and never freely given, and to always assume the worst of other people.  Corporate America will tell you it’s dog-eat-dog out there and you should do whatever it takes to get ahead.  And don’t even get me started on what reality TV tells you.

I am, at the core of my being, a soft-hearted and sensitive person.  And for so many years, I have felt that being that way made me weak and undesirable.  This made my reality when I was around other people quite different from the reality when I was alone.  The pervasiveness of it is kind of stunning, really.  I am having difficulty explaining it.  This pursuit of being “hard,” despite it being the very opposite of my nature, spilled over into every part of my life – work, family, relationships, hobbies.  I adopted values that told me that I needed to deny the way I was and become something else.  Be a shark, not a guppy.

I think that’s why I found bodybuilding so appealing.  Another way to pursue “hard.”  Not only would I physically look the part, but the work, discipline, and dedication would make me inwardly hard.  Win-win, right?  The funny thing is, all it really did was expose my softness and my brokenness about it.

Be SoftThe world says, “Better safe than sorry.”  I have decided the world has it wrong.  It’s better to be sorry than safe.  I would rather have my heart broken than to only allow myself to have superficial relationships that are safe.  I would rather be authentic to who I am and how I feel than try to convince myself I should be someone or feel something different.  I would rather have a softer physique, but a balanced life and the right priorities.  I would rather take a chance on someone or something and see what happens than to bypass every opportunity where the outcome isn’t guaranteed.

Maybe that makes me a pushover.  Maybe that makes me a sappy romantic.  Maybe that makes me naive and foolish.  Maybe that makes me emotional and oversensitive.  Maybe that’s just who I am.


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