Recognizing the bravery of being soft

It is said that being soft in a cruel world is a type of bravery. I know I’m soft, and I know I have a heart for people, but I don’t think that I’m particularly brave. I certainly don’t feel it, especially when when I can feel myself crumbling under the weight of feeling too much too deeply. Maybe I am brave though, maybe I’m stronger than I think, because sometimes I look ahead at the giants I’m facing, and I still march forward. I look at things that cause me severe anxiety, things that I know I have to deal with, and I go forward and take it on.

It’s after I’ve faced that giant, that I don’t feel like I have been brave at all. I feel myself overthinking things, how I could have handled the problem better, how whatever happened made me feel, and my anxiety is still bubbling underneath. I don’t see how I just conquered this thing that causes me so much anguish, I just feel like I’ve still been crushed and wasn’t strong enough to hold it up, or that I did something wrong. Then I look at my softness as weakness, because I wasn’t able to be cold and calculating. That when my giants include the feelings of other people, I try to be as compassionate as possible, in hopes of not hurting anyone but I still worry that something I did or said hurt them anyway, and hurting people doesn’t make you brave.

The thing is, I have a habit of worrying about hurting other people when I’m try to protect myself. I get this conflicting feeling in my chest, that when I care so much about other people and their feelings, I tend to neglect my own needs and feelings. Then when I finally get to a point where I need to take care of myself, I’m still worried about the feelings of others. It’s not necessarily healthy, especially in some of the situations I’ve been, where the person I’m worried about hurting has hurt me in the past, but it still happens. It’s because I have this damn soft heart who cares about people and even when I need to take care of myself, I’m still trying to care for others. I’m still trying not to hurt others in the attempt to take care of myself every once in a while.

I try not to get too discouraged when I come along people who don’t have a heart like mine. People who do what they need to to get what they want without even pausing to think how it affects someone else, and live in total selfishness. A lot of people are somewhere in the middle, but I’ve met a few that have just been utterly selfish in every way. I just don’t understand how people can live those types of lives and still find happiness. I understand in an intellectual sense how these other people live, but maybe because of this heart of mine, I can’t understand how being cold and calculating makes the world better, makes humanity better. Maybe because I’m the polar opposite, that I find genuine joy in loving people and being compassionate, and despite some setbacks, I’m incredibly happy. I have an incredible group of people around me, who when something happens or hurts me, they’re the first to stand up and say, “Who am I punching in the throat?” I have people who are loving and loyal, who genuinely show they care instead of just saying they do.

For these cold and calculating people, they usually seem to lock themselves up and not let anyone see who they truly are. They don’t want people to see them as weak, or that whatever made them hard has affected them so deeply. They want everyone to see them as this brave person who has no weaknesses. What I think is that they have this fear that people won’t love them for who they genuinely are, and that fear of showing that part of themselves has created this façade to protect them. They think they’re brave because no one sees their softness, but maybe that’s not bravery, maybe that’s cowardice.

I want people to know me as the somewhat tough girl who has a soft heart. Kind of like a twinkie or that I’m kind of like a marshmallow on the inside. That people who I love know they’re safe with me because I want to be the protector of their dreams. That means being soft and compassionate with them, and sticking up for them, getting tough when someone tries to squash them. And despite knowing that there are people who don’t have a heart like mine, I will probably still worry and care for them, knowing that I’ll eventually get hurt. Is that bravery, or is it just plain stupidity? I’m not sure but I don’t think I’ll ever stop, because this soft heart of mine can’t help it, it can’t help loving people, even after they’ve hurt me. So I guess, the only thing I can do is celebrate this weird form of bravery by continuing to have this soft heart in a cruel world.

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