“Make Liberals Cry Again.” The intention was to bully me and those like me. But there was something else that it triggered inside of me. I’ve been sitting with it for weeks trying to get to the root of what that message truly means.
A friend of mine was on a rant about this younger generation being “soft”. “They’re soft,” he kept saying in a loud, fearful, disgusted tone. “This younger generation is soft!” I was reminded of the hard outer shell he has built upon himself, and I thought of the armor I have gradually been trying to melt over the years. That’s what has been bothering me about this message. It’s the insistence that there is something wrong with being soft.
Our culture has an issue with softness while, at the same time, it worships it. We learn we can’t be soft to survive, so we crave it outside ourselves. We buy cozy blankets and get massages to help us relax. We like soft edges on mugs to hold our morning caffeine hammers. We work out and compete and then do yoga to help us relax. We are so worked up and armored up that we can’t sleep, so we buy sleeping pills to bring us to the point of softness where we can actually let go.
My ex-husband mirrored my transformation from a soft, sweet, sleepy person into an armored, edgy professional when I drank my coffee. He said my personality completely changed. I suspect that the root of my on-again, off-again relationship with coffee is rooted in this dynamic. As I’ve evolved, I’ve wanted to embrace my softness. My fear of being soft encrusted me with a hard shell that wasn’t serving me. My morning joe was the signal that it was time to armor up. “The world cannot be trusted,” it lied. “Better get your game on.”
I no longer believe that strength comes from being hard. As we get older and wiser, we get softer. It’s the ones that don’t soften that became bitter, angry caricatures of themselves. Hardness separates us in relationship. Inflexibility destroys our joints and muscles making us weak. Rigid thinking destroys creativity. Creativity is born from fluidity. Emotions have to flow – yes, even tears – or we wall ourselves off from ourselves and others. Our strength comes directly from our softness.
I’m learning to be compassionate with myself. I’m drinking tea instead of coffee. I’m learning to question the inner critic that tells me I better “man up” to be successful. I’m listening to the voice that tells me when I need to rest. I’m embracing my feminine energy. All of my life I thought softer, feminine traits were a sign of weakness. But I’ve learned that crying and loving and being sensitive to others is my strength. That’s the muscle I’m flexing now. So, go ahead, make me cry. It only makes me stronger.