People here are so passionate. I look around and am so inspired by the passion of my peers. By their drive and commitment and pure interests.
We have people who are doing amazing research, who fight against causes, who run for every officer position available on campus.
They stand up for what they believe, they actively work to make a difference, and they want to change the world.
That’s one of the reasons I decided to go to Duke: every person I met wanted to do something big, and not just for themselves, but for the world.
But today I read an article that described a woman as “gentle”. I realized that I never think about this quality.
Gentle: slow, peaceful, calm, sincere, sympathetic, graceful.
Gentle is right after a back massage, right after waking up from a refreshing nap, right after taking a hot shower.
Gentle is a way to feel, a way to be, a way to see.
I was thinking about some of the most beautiful people and how many of these people are so, so gentle. They are calm and collected, make me feel warm and fuzzy, and are rarely rash, angry or harsh. They stop throughout their day and take time for other people, take time to live in the moment.
These gentle people are extra-sudsy, perfect-temperature water bubble baths.
You know who I’m talking about. The girl who always seems relaxed, but not lazy, just content. The guy who’s chill, never worried, always positive (I’m talking about you, Chad!). They’re special people. They’re rare.
And so I start to think about how I wish I was more gentle. I wish I was more nurturing and more relaxed.
Which is when it hits me: How am I supposed to be passionate and also gentle?
Maybe the reason these gentle people seem so rare on campus is because everyone is so passionate.
Because isn’t being passionate going on a twenty-minute rant about how much you hate XYZ law? Isn’t being passionate marching for hours downtown to fight for a cause? Isn’t being passionate holding true to your side of the argument no matter what other people try to say? Isn’t being passionate making every action about changing the world?
So how could I be passionate, how could I possibly change the world, while being gentle?
What I quickly realized is that this was quite possibly the dumbest question I’ve ever asked (Actually the questions I asked in my AP Calc class in high school were probably dumber… #notamathmajorforareason.)
Some of the most influential people, people that have truly changed the world, were pretty damn gentle. For example….
Princess Diana— In addition to helping destigmatize HIV positive patients and to abolish landmines, she is widely remembered for her compassion and sympathy.
Albert Einstein— besides his obvious genius invention, he campaigned for a more peaceful world.
Nelson Mandela— Psychology Today said that Mandela was unlike any other leader because of his radiant smile, humble sense of humor, and quiet dignity.
Mother Theresa— I mean they called her Mother for a reason… She helped the poor, but by being nurturing.
…The list could go on and on.
So, no, my lack of gentleness cannot be blamed on the fact that I am just too passionate. Because there are plenty of passionate people that were also gentle. And these people are the ones changing the world. They have this perfect passion-gentle combination going, and they’re getting results.
So, I have come to this conclusion: No matter how many organizations I join, no matter how many organizations I lead, no matter how much intelligence or talent I may have, I won’t change the the world until I gain some gentleness.
So join me, all you super passionate people who want to change the world. Join me in being gentle.
Stop and take a deep breath.
Stop and smell the roses.
Stop and give someone a hug.
Just stop in general.
Stop so you can start changing the world.