Discovering the Essence of Tenderness

Leaving Italy for California in my thirties, I embarked on a journey to understand my Italian identity. While Italy’s cultural nuances often go unnoticed within its borders, stereotypes abound in the U.S., perpetuated by media and culinary myths.

Now, as I approach my 10th year in California, I’ve become acutely aware of the distinct traits that define my Italian heritage, especially when interacting with those unfamiliar with our culture.

One such trait is our inclination to openly express emotions, a characteristic I’ve come to appreciate despite its challenges back home. In Italy, navigating social interactions often felt like tiptoeing through a minefield, as moods could fluctuate unpredictably. This constant vigilance took its toll, leading me to prioritize kindness in all interactions, regardless of my own emotional state.

Upon moving to California, I encountered a different social landscape characterized by pervasive friendliness. While refreshing, this warmth also evoked a sense of isolation, prompting me to reevaluate the meaning of kindness.

The Limits of Kindness
While kindness serves as a universal social lubricant, fostering connections with minimal emotional investment, it can also breed detachment. By adhering to a predefined set of behaviors, one may inadvertently distance oneself from genuine human connection, particularly in intimate or emotionally charged situations.

Enter Tenderness
Unlike kindness, which adheres to societal norms, tenderness emerges from a place of deep empathy and presence. It requires a nuanced understanding of the individual and the situation at hand, fostering genuine connections that transcend formalities.

Tenderness, as opposed to kindness, thrives on spontaneity and adaptability, bridging the gap between souls in a rapidly changing world. It is through tenderness that healing and true connection occur, enriching both personal relationships and professional interactions.

Embracing Tenderness
In navigating my hybrid identity between Italy and the U.S., I’ve come to embrace a philosophy of tender kindness. While challenging, this approach offers profound rewards, enriching my personal and professional life alike.

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