There’s a chip on your shoulder, girl
And it’ll make you fall
If you let it take a part of your soul
Don’t test the ones you love
It’ll only tear us down
If you want to feel alive
Then learn to love your ground
~Mumford & Sons, Sister
The following appeared in our campus newspaper a long while back. Since it’s possibly one of the most significant things I’ve learned this year, of course my natural urge is to write about it – ohhhkay so now I want to launch into a long explanation about this but it would entirely defeat the purpose. Just read it. Or don’t.
I’ve always wished I’d grown up with all brothers. My dad tells me about growing up with three brothers and I picture a rollicking adventure of a childhood, full of camping trips and wrestling matches and heaping dinners that disappear in a flash of lanky arms and t-shirt sleeves and the forgetting of forks. Having all brothers would mean backyard football games and fighting over TV shows and late night refrigerator raids. There would be adventure books stacked up by every bed, and fishing poles and shotguns and rusty bicycles heaped in cluttered tangles in the garage. It would be a chaotic mess of movement, of excitement, of love shown in slaps on the back and challenges and the short-and-silent look.
Basically, it sounds like an awful darn lot of fun.
Of course,(me being a girl) things could easily get complicated.
“But we’re simple creatures,” my guy friends protest, when I introduce this topic.
And I know what they mean. “Simple” depends on the definition. That is the beauty of it. My womanly way of wording wants to say, “But guys AREN’T simple! Guys have so many layers, and the real them is buried deep deep inside,” but that would be sappy and if I said it aloud, I’m sure all of my layered brothers would all sound a collective snort of disgust.
So it is my job to figure out a different way to say it WITHOUT sounding sappy.
Let me try it this way:
They have the wordless down. That’s what it is.
They don’t always need words to say “I love.”
One of my good friends helped me realize this last summer. We were taking a walk down long Ohio roads, and the high morning sun was blistering our bare feet over the pavement. This was a serious conversation, and I was (inevitably) making a mess of things.
I was telling him how I felt like I’d gone too long without saying how much he meant to me. I was fervent, eloquent, speechy, and he interrupted me finally:
“But you don’t NEED to tell me,” he said.
“I’ve always known you trust me and care about me. And likewise. I didn’t think we had to say it.”
His words have worked on me these last months. It’s not my natural state – I usually spill every emotion all over my own sleeves and everyone else’s. But this new idea, this practice in KNOWING instead of SAYING…
I think I like it. I think it works.
I am, in fact, surrounded by brothers who are looking out for me. When I stopped letting words of affirmation (and lack thereof) dictate my moods and my attitude, I started seeing all of the little ways I am taken care of and stopped demanding so much.
Yes, some days I need a big,lanky-armed bear-hug and I get a sullen “good morning” instead. Some days I feel like a wet soppy puddle of emotion and I know I must try very hard to keep my mouth shut at all costs. Sometimes I inadvertently overstep and my brothers say without words, “you are SUCH a girl.”
But I’m learning. I’m learning that I don’t need everyone to put into words what I want to hear. And on those insecure days (they happen to everyone) when I wish someone would just SAY that I’m smart enough or that I am strong enough or that I look nice or that I’m fun or that I’m not useless after all…I can just relax and know that I’m just fine.
It’s funny. My strong-and-silent brothers probably won’t even read this because it isn’t in the sports section, but that’s okay – you can spread the word around.
Or maybe you don’t have to.