A few years ago, after a particularly tough night — one of those nights where the weight of the world seems to come crashing down all at once — my mom wrote these words on a Post-it Note for me and left them on my bathroom counter.
“I love you, Em. You don’t always have to be so strong.”
I have that note saved in a box somewhere up in the U.S. And even though that note is not physically with me here in Argentina, my mom’s simple-yet-profound words are with me always.
You don’t always have to be so strong.
I’m realizing more and more that I tend to carry the weight of what can sometimes feel like the world on my shoulders and that no one is putting that pressure on me but me. I think this is human. I think we are all guilty of this to varying degrees — and I think social media and the internet and our hyper-connected world only make it worse.
I’m realizing that, at times, the very person who should be caring for me deeply and having my best interests at heart is the same person who’s tearing me apart and breaking me down the most: me. (Admittedly, that was true more so a year ago than it has been in recent months.)
We hold ourselves to such high standards and forget to give ourselves a break. We forget to let ourselves up for air. We forget to practice love and grace and patience and kindness with ourselves.
Yet it is so important to practice these things with ourselves more than anyone else. To give ourselves a break. To be our own allies and advocates. Because if we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we show up and be there, really be there, for anyone else?
We don’t always have to be so strong.
It’s okay to be vulnerable and let others in. It’s okay to bare your heart and soul. It’s okay to share your challenges, and triumphs, with others. To lean on others. It’s okay to need them — and their time, their ears, their love, their hugs, their advice and encouragement.
We don’t always have to be so strong. We don’t have to carry the weight of the world.
With so much going on in the world as a whole — and with others facing challenges that we sometimes feel are far greater than our own — we can easily feel guilty for requesting someone’s time and attention or for venting or “complaining,” which I think should simply be rephrased as “opening up,” about the challenges that are weighing on us, however trivial they may seem.
At times, I think we get so wrapped up in the state of thinking and doing and figuring things out that we forget to pause and care for ourselves. We are a world of movement and progress and “success.” In those moments where the world spins faster and faster, we fail to see that we are trying to keep it all together, that we are trying to be so strong. And then, in the midst of it all, we forget to pause, catch our breath and, on occasion, let the tears flow. It’s not just okay; it’s necessary.
So let this be a reminder to me, and you, that we don’t always have to be so strong. We don’t have to carry the weight of the world. We don’t even have to carry the weight of our worlds. We must be patient with ourselves. We must be kind and loving, and we must practice grace.
In Chasing Slow, Erin Loechner writes, “Ask a bird how to fly, and it might tell you to remove the weight from your wings.”
You don’t always have to be so strong. Remove the weight from your wings, and fly.
May 11, 2018