My girls and I watched the new Cinderella the other night. In the movie, Cinderella’s mother’s last words to her were, “Have courage, and be kind.”
Cinderella starts with the ‘be kind’ part. She is too kind. You know the story– she lets the step sisters and step mother walk all over her in the name of being kind. How often have you found yourself being taken advantage of, all the while thinking you were just being kind? Kind to the other person, sure. But not very kind to yourself.
That is where the ‘have courage’ part comes in. Courage comes in lots of forms. In it’s most obvious form, it is courage that allows us to stand up to someone that is hurting us, even if it is just to say, “Ouch. That hurts.”
Less obvious is the courage it takes to be kind to ourselves. To take time to do what you want to do for no other reason than you want to do it. Maybe this is more true for women than for men, but I can’t help but feel a little guilty when I put energy and effort into something that no one else will directly benefit from. I will be the only one gleaning pleasure. I will be the only one profiting. Women are often told that such actions are selfish. And perhaps they are.
Every day I am learning to be a little selfish. I think it is a trait a lot of good woman need. If for no other reason than to teach our daughters that their desires have worth and validity. They can say, “My desire to (fill in the blank) is enough to justify me doing (fill in the blank).” Nobody is allowed to call me ‘less than’ for doing what I desire. I can let the dishes sit in the sink while I write because I can let the dishes sit in the sink while I write. I don’t want to do the dishes right now. I want to write. My desire is more important than the dishes. (Sounds a bit silly when we put it that way, doesn’t it?)
The obvious limit here is when doing what you desire brings harm. But then we come back to kindness.
Ladies, do what you gotta do. Whatever that looks like. Take care of your responsibilities. But also, take care of you. Because you are beautiful and worthy and your desires are valid because they belong to you.