Lessons in toughening up

Wednesday 18 April 2018

I'm not a very tough person.

People who know me very well may disagree with that. Sure I've had a couple of setbacks and always pushed through but on a day to day basis I don't feel tough.

I let things get to me. Part of that is tied up with my anxiety and that is something I have to recognise and handle, and part of it is just my nature.

I like people to like me and I always look for the best in people.

So when people don't like me or don't live up to the 'best' that I saw in them I take it pretty hard.

You'd think at 27 some of these lessons would have started to sink in by now. That not everyone will like you, that some people will let you down, and that some people for whatever reason (and I still like to think people have their reasons) can be plain nasty. But they seem to have been like water off a ducks back.

Part of me doesn't mind this so much. Part of me doesn't want to be tainted by the world and what it throws at us. I want to retain some of that belief, and obviously, I want to walk into the world and make good, positive connections with people.

But part of me needs to grow and not take things so personally. To accept that sometimes you just won't click with people and it isn't because of something you've done. I need to hold faith in myself that I walk into all situations with my best intentions and that sometimes they don't work out, they are misinterpreted, or people see me trying my best but that doesn't change who they are, and every now and then people have their own games to play.

Of course, we should all reflect on the things we've done and said to make sure we learn from mistakes we may have made. But when I look back and can't find those mistakes, then I have to stop searching for them and accept that if I could go back I wouldn't do anything differently. I need to toughen up.

It's not easy to tread that line though is it?

As I take these lessons in toughening up I feel myself become cynical and suspicious, something I've always tried to avoid becoming. I know that every situation and person is different but it's hard not to let the bad taste from one experience linger into the next course.

This isn't going to be the most elegant metaphor I've ever used but: I need to be a kinder bueno.

I need an outer shell that isn't impossible to crack, a wafer that is structurally sound, that holds me together but lets people know I'm soft on the inside. A shell that could break into a hundred pieces if something truly terrible happens. As much as I don't want to be crushed into a gooey hazelnut mess I also know that if you want to feel the really good things in life, like love, then you have to be open to heartbreak.

And the other great thing about being a Kinder Bueno? Some people love them, and some are allergic to nuts - and there is nothing you can do about that. If someone just naturally is not compatible with you, you can't make them like you. Although if a nut tried to make someone allergic to them like them, they'd probably kill that person, with me it's the other way round.

Because you can bend over backwards trying to make someone like you but the only person you'll end up killing is who you truly are.

So if I want to remain soft on the inside I need to get tough, otherwise, I might dry up altogether and become solid as a rock, or I might melt away to some unidentifiable goo of a person.

Thanks for sticking with me and my snack based metaphor, this post was not sponsored by Kinder Bueno, but I know what I'm having this afternoon!

Take care and toughen up x

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