Today I'm reposting one of my favorite posts. Summer is a gracious season I think so I thought it was appropriate.
Be pretty if you can, be witty if you must, but be gracious if it kills you. - Elsie de Wolfe
I stumbled up on this quote recently and immediately taped it up on my bathroom mirror. It seemed to perfectly capture how I have been feeling lately. I spent so many years trying to gain confidence and learn to stick up for myself that recently I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve overshot my mark. In my efforts to defend myself, do I forget about other people?
I’ve always been extraverted. (I know hard to believe.) For many years, however, my exuberant personality was more to mask insecurity. All it took was a well-meaning “tone it down” or a not so well-meaning “abrasive” to send me into hysterics. As I got older, I began to understand that many people’s problem with my personality had very little to do with me and much more to do with their own issues. And what did I care? If you can’t stick up for yourself, why should I walk on eggshells in an effort to protect your fragile ego. I mean there’s a reason that my name and the word steamroll often find themselves in the same sentence.
So, when I saw that quote, I began to wonder. Am I gracious? Do I push people to hard? Should I be more concerned with how other people feel or react to me? After all, who wouldn’t want to be described as gracious, as opposed to a piece of construction exquipment?
When I began to share my quote with close friends and family, I expected support on my new mission and appreciation for my little quote. Imagine my surprise when the reaction I was most often met with was skepticism. Everyone seemed to argue that signing yourself up for graciousness meant turning into a doormat. But is that true? What does gracious mean?
To we go!
1. pleasantly kind, benevolent, and courteous.
2. characterized by good taste, comfort, ease, or luxury: gracious suburban living; a gracious home.
3. indulgent or beneficent in a pleasantly condescending way, especially to inferiors.
4. merciful or compassionate: our gracious king.
5. Obsolete . fortunate or happy.
Hmmmm...pleasantly kind, benevolent, and courteous is definitely what I had in mind. Good taste is always good, so is merciful or compassionate. Not sure where obsolete fits in but fortunate and happy are fine by me. Three threw me a bit - although if you’re going to be condescending, you might as well be pleasant about it I suppose.
Not too far off from what I thought it meant. I want to be kind and courteous. Thinking of others more often is a cornerstone of every world religion and can’t hurt, right? Putting others before yourself (a.k.a. doormat) is a problem and maybe where graciousness got a bad wrap. However, being a doormat is about a lack of confidence—a belief that you are not worthy of others' respect. To me, graciousness is just the opposite—at its source is complete respect and love for yourself. You don’t base your self-worth on others needing you or being intimidated by you. You know you are deserving of respect and kindness andgrace and therefore others are as well.
So, that’s why if you run into me on the street, I might not look pretty (mascara doesn’t make the cut very often) and I might not be witty (that requires the quiet of nap time and a computer screen), but I will be gracious if it kills me...
And if I fall short—I am 8 months pregnant after all—I’d appreciate a little grace in return.
- Sarah Stewart Holland