I used to have a friend in high school who would get mad at every little thing. Look at her wrong and she’s ready to break her foot off in somebody’s ass. She was known as the girl nobody wanted to mess with, but over time, she also became the woman I didn’t want to be friends with, either. Over the years, I’ve met (and quickly distanced myself from) other sisters with the same mentality – always looking for reasons to “go off” on someone when a situation doesn’t go as it should.
I have always considered these to be “tough” women. Women you see walking down the street with a look on their faces that pretty much triple dog dares you to smile at them. They wish you would.
So I do. I give them my biggest, most authentic smile full of love and affirmation. And sometimes, I even get them to smile back.
I smile because I know where the mean mug comes from. When I was growing up, my grandmother taught me that being tough is good. She said to be nice, but not too nice or let your guard down too much. That way, nobody can walk all over you or “get over” on you. But as I’ve gotten older and more mature, I’ve found that her advice often comes from a place of fear because of her own life experiences. Although it’s easy to present a tough facade to the world, it would actually be more useful for us to learn how to be brave. There is, in fact, an important and significant difference.
Tough is being able to cuss any and everybody out at any given time if they piss you off or “disrespect you.” Tough thinks everyone is out to get her. Tough wants to fight when she gets hurt.
Brave is being able to recognize when you have an anger management problem or other unresolved personal issues. Brave wants to heal her past pain and finally be happy. Brave is not afraid to find a therapist to help her along in the journey.
I think at certain times in our lives, all of us have been one or the other.
Which one are you now? Which one do you want to be?