KNOW THAT YOU ARE STRONG.
Dear friends —
A confession: I'm a baby. I was the baby of my family, and I liked that position. I tried with all my might to extend it for as long as I could. I was a fearful and tearful and clinging child. Everything alarmed me, because the world is f***ing alarming. Not only did I refuse to go into the ocean, for instance, but I also wept when I saw anyone else going to into the ocean. I ACTUALLY TRIED TO GET MY PARENTS TO MAKE PEOPLE STOP GOING IN THE OCEAN. (If i could've gotten the ocean turned off, that would have suited me, because it was bloody terrifying.) I liked being coddled and petted and comforted and basically completely tended to. It suited me, frankly. I would have liked to have been coddled my entire life, with somebody stroking my head and saying, "There, there…you don't have to go to school ever again."
The luckiest thing that ever happened to me was being born to a mother who refused to baby me after I was no longer, biologically, an actual baby.
I resented this, of course. I fought it. But she wasn't having it. And the world, not unlike my mother, also refused to baby me — frustratingly enough.
For a lot of my life, all I felt was fragile and weak. When I found people who indulged that sense of weakness in me, I was grateful. It took me a long time to realize that those were the wrong kind of people for me to be hanging around.
There's a line in that controversial "Tiger Mom" memoir where the woman says that the basic difference between Chinese mothers and American mothers is that American mothers fear their children are delicate, and Chinese mothers know without a doubt that their children are strong. This line struck me because my own mother, also, knew that her daughter was strong — even when I did not know it myself, even when I fought to prove that I was weak.
My life began to take on great proportions when I stopped trying to prove to myself or anyone else that I was delicate and tired and broken and fragile, and started remembering who I actually am: a human being who is descended from countless generations of human beings who SURVIVED. In other words, by definition: Strong.
I don't know anything about your heritage, but I can tell you without a doubt that this is who you are, too. If you are here on earth, it is because your ancestors survived. They survived unthinkable, unbearable, unsurvivable things. And you will, too.
So these days, when I feel myself getting weepy or tragic or victimized or overwhelmed or panicked or paranoid or self-pitying, I say to myself, "Sure, those are all natural feelings. No need to be ashamed of any of it. But don't dishonor the struggle and the resilience of your human inheritance by playing weak. Because we are strong."
We are not made of sugar candy, said Winston Churchill.
It's Monday morning, guys. You are more powerful than you could ever imagine. Buckle up your boots and go face it — whatever it is. Go be warriors.