A Mundane Activity Embedded in My Memory
There was this game we played in secondary school post-exams during some motivational course. Blank papers were stuck onto our backs, and we had to go around writing down a person’s best quality. I noticed that those who lacked immediate personality had the default words ‘sweet’ attributed to them. They were not the type of girls I admired or hung out with. It was with dread that I retrieved the secret message on my back. There it was, the verdict – ‘sweet’. I don’t think it was the purpose of the course to make us feel bad, but I felt insulted. So I decided that I was going to stop being ‘sweet’ then and there.
Equation of Strength in Modern Society
These days strength is often equated with aggression, or associated with high activity output. But few people realise just how much strength it takes to be kind and gentle, especially when it often goes unnoticed. We live in a world that is vying for attention, and hungry for validation. The quiet ones are often forgotten, and sometimes deemed uninspiring.
A Conversation With My Mother
My mother came to sit by my bed one evening, while I was going through a devastating period of bad health. She said something that gave me pause. “I admire and respect you a lot. You are the epitome of what a lady represents.” I was a little embarrassed – it is a strange concept in my culture to have a mother defer respect to their child. But I didn’t understand what she meant.
After further enquiry, the keyword that I got out of her was ‘endurance’. She felt that that was what being a lady was all about, and that it was a rare quality these days. It was meant as a compliment, but I felt disappointed. What is this weakling of a word?! It didn’t sound cool or fancy, but technical and dull. I wanted a firecracker description; something powerful, something colourful.
I have thought much about the word ‘endurance’ over the years, and I think I am starting to understand. It is the ability to keep everything together, to push on despite pain or circumstance. It is the ability to survive with elegance. To get beaten up, bled and scarred, but not broken. To still be ticking away, despite the odds or faults.
I have also started to care less about how others perceive me, and realise that whatever qualities I have are strengths. If I am sweet and associated with a lack of charisma, so be it. If the boring noun ‘endurance’ describes me, then I will use it to maximum effect.
Go Out and Slay With Kindness
Having read stories like this and that, I find it amazing how one small act of kindness can change the world. How it can shape the entirety of someone else’s day, or immortalise a moment in their memories. Imagine all the worlds that can be shaped into something beautiful, from just one simple interaction! When I lay on my deathbed in future, I am sure the flashbacks I get will comprise of many kind acts; even from strangers who have forgotten what they have done.
I now think that a kind person has one of the toughest personalities out there, but only when it comes from a place of self awareness, and not from the position of the bullied. To know that no matter the external forces, it is your choice to behave in this manner. To be comfortable and confident with your decision, even under negative pressure. Not because you are better than anyone else – we are all human with the same grave sizes – but because deep down in our hearts, we know that this is right. So go out there and kick asses with sugar and spice and all things nice. And for boys – yes you too 😉
“No matter how big your house is, how recent your car is, or how big your bank account is. Our graves will always be the same size. Stay humble.” – Unknown
This has to be one of my most favourite posts in recent times – the entire post was so beautiful but this line was just the best: “a kind person has one of the toughest personalities out there, but only when it comes from a place of self awareness, and not from the position of the bullied. ”
I’m really grateful for this reminder – thank you Sheryl.
Thanks Shruti, reading it was a reminder to myself, too 🙂 Sending love your way <3
I love that idea of endurance. Just being ourselves, going forward in the best way we can. Perhaps we have to pause at times, but that’s OK, it’s still keeping on, but in a different way. I love that your mum said that to you. So lovely, and just shows how much she admires you.
I sat with my grandmother, in the hospital as she was in and out of consciousness. It was the hardest moment of my life, saying goodbye to the woman who gave me guidance. But the defining moment was when she said, “You and I respect each other.” That was huge. I’ve always viewed myself as someone who wasn’t a wow; but, I came to understand that being a woman who lived with integrity, kindness, and yes, never giving up. I do that in honor of her. My grandmother would respect you, too, Sheryl.
Hi Katie, yes definitely not being a ‘wow’ firecracker personality doesn’t matter so much at the end of the day, but being true to yourself, and like you said, living with integrity, kindness and endurance. Thank you so much for your beautiful, kiind words Katie. Sending love.
HI Claire, that was years and years ago, but it really stuck with me and influenced my thinking to an extent. Amazing what some words can do, huh! 😉 Yes we all move forward in our own way and pace, and that’s great!