a snippet from the book + the last workshop of the year

I have never been in a fight.

A physical one, I mean. I like to think that I could defend myself if I had to, but it’s never been tested.  I’ve never been physically bullied or attacked. I don’t like to yell, my voice sounds weird when I do. Arguments and confrontations freak me out and I avoid them as much as possible.  I say I’ve never been in a fight, and yet I fancy myself a fighter.   One who has fought to find meaning in the puzzles of her life.

I'm so tired of trying to be hard for people who think I'm too soft.   My strength doesn't have to be hard.  I don't want the applause of people who only approve when I snap, act out and forget who I am.  I don't want to be any place where kindness is treated as a problem.

I thought I would have to learn how to be mean to be successful at life because nice girls finish last.   Nice girls get talked over, ignored and underestimated.  Nice girls let people treat them any which way and they don't stand up for themselves. They do things they don't want to do because they are too nice to say no.  I struggled with the idea that I was nothing more than a nice girl with no fire inside.  Boring and without passion,  because aggression never came naturally to me.  

My whole life people told me I needed to toughen up, but I stayed soft.  I decided that if I was going to learn how to be more forceful, I would learn how to be aggressively kind.     Kindness is brave, not weak at all.   Kindness requires self-control, conviction and -- empathy.  Qualities I am finally learning to appreciate and use to fight in my own way.

For some of us, compassion makes the air easier to breathe.  I care too much about how people feel and what they are going through in life to ignore this instinct.   I was born with a heavy heart and I carry it with reverence, like if I try to stop caring I will drop it, not only shattering myself but everyone around me.  I feel this responsibility to carry extra weight for those who seem to not see or feel anything beyond themselves.  Another way to say it, I feel like I need to be more kind to make up for those who are not.

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