Thin Skin

Raise your hand if you have thin skin. (My hand is 100% raised). Come on, all the way up. Nice and high, so we can see you.

You don’t want to raise your hand. I get it. I really, really do. But what if I were to sweeten the deal, a little bit?

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Maybe you could think about whether or not you’re going to take me up on that, and just hear me out. Because I’m thinking that it might not be such a bad thing — to not have a thick skin.

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Of course, when called upon, I can rattle off the reasons why we should all be striving not to take everything so personally. There are good reasons, after all, and I think we’ve all swallowed them, somewhere along the line.

I think you’re right, when you say that tears should not be threatening just because you didn’t like my vinaigrette. (Too oily? Too lemony? Too something.) Thunderclouds should not be building, and the sky should not be approximately 10 minutes from cracking open. FYI: it wasn’t about the damn dressing.

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I think you have a point, when you say that having a backbone is incredibly important. (I’d like to add that having three older brothers is not a bad way to go about getting one.) And I agree with you, when you say you don’t think that one Debbie Downer of an email should have me second-guessing my entire career path, or that a single brush-off should have the power to prevent me from ever giving out my number again.

But I also think that there is something to be said for letting feelings be felt. Really and actually felt. All the way. Because isn’t that where all the books you wish would never end come from? And the paintings that make you lose track of time, and the songs that you can’t help but sing back?

I think feelings are raw and real, and infinitely more touchable than the armor we’ve all been instructed to put up. I know that I’m incredibly drawn to what’s underneath that hard shell.

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I don’t know that I have one of those, myself. Am I just sort of soft all over? Maybe. It feels that way, now more than ever. I don’t think I had a particularly thin skin when I was Squirt and Short Stuff and Rug Rat. But it’s definitely thin now. Press too hard, and you’ll poke right through.

It’s my dad’s skin: olive. It didn’t betray me when I was fifteen and erupt in angry red boils. It tans easily, but bruises easily too. It’s skin that still hasn’t been touched a whole lot, and it’s skin that I once desperately wanted to be rid of. This skin…it’s also a little wrinkly. See those little lines etched across my forehead? Yeah. All that worrying — it’ll get ya.

I do tend to internalize everything. (It must be an occupational hazard.)

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And yes, all of this feeling might not be serving me very well. It might amount to nothing, in the end. But given the choice, I still wouldn’t wish to get better at numbing.

I find comfort in small things, when I’m alone and isolated and feeling every barb with excruciating pain. I find comfort in funfetti, raining down over a chocolate cake. (With cream cheese frosting, because because!)

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I find comfort in a nondescript sandwich, on something that’s trying really hard to be a bagel. I find comfort in a sort of squished edge and a plain old egg. I find comfort in crumbly cheddar cheese and no longer perfectly green avocado.

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And it’s kind of nice: I find comfort — so much comfort — in the fact that everything always looks better in the morning.

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