Often times in life we are told we should be tough, we should be bold, we should be firm and assertive. There is an implication that the only way to get ahead in life is to be cut-throat, mean, and cold. After all, nice guys always finish last right? Well, maybe not.
I will admit that there are times when being tough and being assertive are beneficial, and they are something that I struggle with so when it does happen it does feel good. That good feeling however comes from the successful setting of boundaries and the fact that it doesn’t happen very often. I can’t imagine how boring it must get to be hard, and tough, and cold all the time, and then the inevitable escalations of meanness that are needed to feel like you are still being the hardened person you need to be to succeed.
We correlate being soft, sensitive, and compassionate with weakness and a lack of ambition or drive, but I don’t think that is the case. For example, I consider myself to be a reasonably ambitious person. I have goals and aspirations that I am constantly working towards and while progress may be slow, it is still progress and I do not have it in me to give up on those goals even if I am faced with more aggressive, assertive people.
I am also someone who is filled with empathy, who wants to help people when they are in need, when they are upset, when they are lonely. I get upset at nature documentaries because I want the tiger and the antelope to be able to survive. I feel bad for the team that loses whether I support them or not because they worked so hard and tried their best.
I want to donate to all the different causes that I care about even if it bankrupts me. I personify inanimate objects and will always buy the dented, imperfect item in a shop because I don’t want it to be left behind by everyone else.
Some of those things might seem ridiculous, and they are from a logical point of view, but I’m a soft person, I can’t help it. Most importantly though, apart from having tins in my cupboards so dented I can’t actually open them with a tin opener and being entirely unable to throw away a teddy because of the look it will give me as I do so, these traits do not negatively affect my daily life.
I may cry at good news Instagram accounts, and I may lie awake at night completely overwhelmed by the pain and suffering that is happening all over the world, but it drives me in everything I do. If you were to ask me what I wanted people to remember me for after I’m gone, it would be kindness, softness, and an interminable desire to leave the world a better place than I found it. If that means just making one person’s day a little better or making someone feel seen or heard when they felt invisible then I will be happy.
It’s not only okay to be a soft person, but I would also argue that it is something to be proud of. Embrace the parts of you that are not yet hardened by the world, own the side of you that is emotional and sensitive. Think of all the wonderful things we could do if there were more people focused on being kind and empathetic in the world.