I am a total sucker for quotes. I love scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest and seeing something that speaks directly into my soul. Sometimes you don’t realize you even feel a certain way until somebody else says it and puts words to everything you have experienced. The other day I came across and anonymous post that just said this:
“I hate thinking ‘Okay let me show less love’ ‘let me not care so much’ – I hate that feeling! I should never have to feel that way. My purest form is loving hard and caring hard and nurturing hard. Those are not negatives.”
It knocked the wind right out of me. How often have I professed that to myself? More than I care to admit. But I’m going to anyways.
From a young age and early into my formative years, it was hammered home from society around me that I should adjust my behavior to be more liked. On the surface, we get mixed messages. There is confidence and t-shirt slogans about being original and being you. At the same time, I read magazines and articles that told me all of the ways to “not act” if you want to be attractive to boys and how-to guides on just about all aspects of my appearance, behavior, demeanor, and presentation.
There is a universal message about keeping up a mysterious front and cold exterior. And this isn’t just in the dating world. You don’t want to sound too eager in an interview or pour too much of yourself into a friendship.
I’ve struggled with finding my footing with this from a young age because, quite frankly, I love hard. I feel deeply. If you are an important person in my life, I am extraordinarily devoted to you.
The collateral damage of this presents itself in two parts. In one scenario, you are too much for people who have been told that the deep thinkers and feelers of the world are somebody to avoid. That they are clingy or sensitive and not the strong, independent person you want in your life (because apparently those things are mutually exclusive and somebody cannot possibly be strong and sensitive). The second scenario is you become vulnerable to those who prey upon this attribute. People who are constant takers of all that you give and drain you of your spirit.
In time, the latter group will point out the very things characteristics that drew them to you as a friend or partner or colleague in the first place and weaponize them, citing them in an attempt to gaslight you and make you feel like the problem.
And so those words stick. It becomes reflexive to pull back, show less love, give space, and not share the warmth of your love. To put up walls and keep your thoughts in your head.
I’ve decided I’m done with that. I will no longer allow my kind heart to be used against me as some sort of flaw. I will not water myself down for others. At the end of the day, I am a woman who likes to compose handwritten notes and tell my friends I love them on every phone call. I love connecting with new people and sharing experiences. I’d rather risk texting someone and telling them they seemed sad when I bumped into them at the grocery store and ask if they are okay and chance it that I’ll make things more uncomfortable. It’s worth it if there is even a small chance that acknowledging that pulled them out of a dark place. I will no longer self-reflect on if my affection and heart is attractive to those around me. I will only reflect on if I’m being true to myself.
I am kind and loving and I’m me — that is NOT a negative. My son and daughter will grow up and learn that you can be strong and independent and self-sufficient while at the same time being gentle and nurturing to those around you. They will also know that it’s okay if they naturally are more stoic demeanor, too. And if they have different levels of boundaries, that will also be celebrated. There is no one right way to be. That is the point, though, right?