A Call To Be Soft

A Call To Be Soft | thefreewoman.com

The world is a wild and wonder-filled place, filled to the brim with snatched moments of magic, delicious tastes, warm embraces and utter joy. But it can also be a wilderness of uphill (or up-mountain!) climbs and one battle after another, especially when we’re building a business or chasing down a dream career. There are days when we reach the other side feeling battered, bruised and well and truly worn out.

You know the feeling – we’ve all been there.

Some days do require a fight. Some dreams require battle mode. Success, in whatever shape or form it comes in is never won overnight. We may not see all the blood, sweat and tears that go on in the background of someone’s dreaming, but they are there. A true ‘overnight success’ is a very rare thing indeed.

For us women, sometimes it seems that that the uphill is slightly steeper, the hurdles slightly higher and the sacrifices slightly greater. There have been some almighty successes, fought hard – and won – on our behalf, by the brave women who forged ahead of us.

But now it’s our turn.

We are the one’s in the drivers’ seats, building the businesses and forging the paths our daughters will follow. We are the ones defining what success looks like. What a privilege and honour! What a time to be running after our dreams.

But somehow, somewhere in the trenches, in the dark of the long nights and fog of hard work has developed this idea that to be successful means we need to be tough. We need the thickest skins, the hardest heads and the most brutal approaches. We need to become the #girlboss. Because that’s the way to success – isn’t it? The world seems to yell at us that we are not hard enough, fast enough, busy enough… we don’t have enough ‘side hustles’ and we’re not scrambling up that career ladder quick enough. It taunts us to get out our armour and strap it on because battle mode is the only mode acceptable here.

Is there a different approach? A softer one, if you will.
Is it possible that the ‘hard as nails is the only way to be successful’ idea is not the only one out there?
That the homes and families and people around us are crying out for slower, more authentic, gentle leadership?
That battle mode doesn’t always have to look like a blood-stained suit of armour and a jousting pole?
Do you think that maybe, strength and soft-heartedness can coincide within the same soul, in the same moment?
Can they run parallel, headlong into this chaotic world?

I want to believe that grace and gentleness and soft words and honest approaches can pave the way for those who come behind us. That wheeling and dealing, conniving and manipulating has no place in the world we are creating for ourselves, no connection with our ideas of success.

So this is a call, to all of us, to choose the softer approach. To know that tougher is not always better. To speak grace, to do less, well.

A plea to join us in building a definition of success that builds up, rather than tears down, and gives rather than takes. A path our daughters, with light and hope-filled eyes can look upon and think “I can do this! I can get there. And I’ll still be me on the other side.”

To build a career ladder that has enough space for everyone, on every step. To take on healthy competition with a healthy and honest mind-set. To choose the high road. To be self-aware, steady-footed, patient.

An understanding that our thoughts and ideas and dreams are worth respecting and don’t need to be shot through the barrel of a gun to be seen or heard.

To fight for a reverence for rest.

Let’s put down the weight of ‘we’re not doing enough’ and pick up the baton of being authentic and true to our gentle, grace-filled natures. Run the race the way it’s meant to be run, focusing on our lanes, our dreams, straight and true to the finish line.

– Photo credit: Brooke Cagle

Author: Emma Whiley

Emma Whiley is a Zimbabwean writer living in London with her husband and soon-to-arrive Baby Whiley. A lover of all things pancakes, words, stories, brunch and afternoon tea, she's a wanna-be minimalist who loves re-reading old books and trawling charity shops. Born for blue skies she's never happier than when the sun, and the summer wardrobe, are out.