Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sweet Emotion

Last month Glen and I were indulging in one of our rare, slightly-philosophical discussions. This in and of itself is noteworthy because usually we stick to shallow topics, such as the merits of a tv show starring Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, and Sean Bean. (you had me at richard armitage.) But that's not the point here.

Hello, dear.

It was inspired by a woman in our ward who we don't know terribly well, but who is without a doubt one of the sweetest people we've ever met. And not in a sugary, sickeningly-syrupy way. The kind of sweet that is soft-spoken, selfless, and ultimately sincere. The kind that you want to emulate. The kind that your default description of this woman is "sweet".

She is also not the tallest of women. She is willowy and petite. I've definitely seen shorter people, but she's small.

Contrast that with me. No, I'm not the tallest of women, but I'm up there in the height department. And I've also got meat on my bones (and not just because i've had a baby and can be too lazy about exercise, although that does help). And I'm pretty sure that "sweet" is not a default adjective used by others to describe me.

I'm the girl who had to be bribed by her (soft-spoken) 4th-grade teacher to be quieter in class with Ghirardelli chocolates. I'm the girl who was so obnoxiously enthusiastic about welcoming younger students into choir that I actually scared them before they got to know me and realized I was capable of behaving like a normal-ish human being (sorry again, cheech!). I'm the girl who was sometimes nicknamed "Megaphone", for crying out loud! I've always been loud and a bit brash, and I've generally been an attention-seeker. (yay, drama! both on-stage and off.)

And I was wondering out loud and this was our discussion . . . is my height and body shape a factor in my personality? Is her height a factor in hers?

The final decision I've come to is that maybe it is, and maybe it isn't. I talked about this to my pal Melissa, who came up with a couple of tall people she knows who she definitely would first describe as sweet. She also reminded me of the concept of the "gentle giant", and I immediately thought of my old pal Mike, who fit that description to a T. He was a big, football-playing, motorcycle-loving guy with one of the most tender hearts I knew, the kind of heart that was soft enough that he cried while singing "How Great Thou Art". (one of my first memories of him.)

So thus we see, there are tall, big people who are sweet, and tall, big people who are not. If I really thought about the shorter people I know, I'm sure I could find similar variability. And maybe our sizes do influence our personalities, but they definitely aren't the deciding factor.

I'm not saying that one personality is better than the other. As Melissa reminded me, if we were all alike, this world would be pretty boring. And I'm not even saying I'm incapable of sweetness. I can be thoughtful, I can be a good listener, and I can even do things for others that can be described as sweet. The point is not to use another person's personality to degrade my own, but acknowledge their strengths and be inspired to improve myself. You never know -- maybe someone's seen the differences between themselves and me and wanted to follow my example in something. That's crazy to think, because of course I know all my flaws and am quick to say that nobody should strive to be at all like me. But maybe, juuuuuust maybe, it's possible.

So as I see these sweet people in my life, I'm going to try a little better to be more like them. To reach out without a thought toward myself. To lend a listening ear. To help someone willingly. To be sincerely interested in their lives. I may still be big and loud, but I can do that much. And I don't need to be bribed with Ghirardelli chocolate to do it, either.

Although chocolate is always welcome.



"If you don't know how to pronounce a word, say it loud!" -William Strunk, Jr.

No comments: