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There is an old proverb that goes something like this — the same water that hards the egg, softens the potato. The moral of the story is that it isn’t your circumstances which make you hard and bitter or kind and empathetic, it’s you. It’s the material you start with, how you look at life, the way you respond to your personal pot of boiling water, etc. But they are wrong.

We all are submerged into the water. Sometimes it just feels a tad bit warm at first until someone turns up the heat and before we know it — steam is floating around us and we are up to our ears in it. Boiling water. What do we do?

I’ve been a nurse a long time. Becoming a potato in that environment is not an option. Doctors, management, and other nurses will mash you, throw some butter and sour cream on you, and eat you alive. The only way to survive is to harden, grow a shell, keep the embryo which is you safely hidden away from those who would destroy it.

Those of us who are old nurses recognize each other by the chips and scars on our shells. There is no judgement there. We understand the many pots of boiling water we have survived, over and over again.

But eventually, the chips give way to cracks. Large areas of our protective shells fall away. If you live long enough, see enough, are submerged enough, even the hardest shells will deteriorate. No egg is boiled into stone. The proverb doesn’t tell you that. It doesn’t tell you that underneath your very carefully constructed shell is a still a soft center.

You are still you. It is not what you are made of at all which causes one person to become a potato and another to become an egg. We are all soft beings on the inside no matter how many times we’ve been submerged into the pot.

Do not judge yourself as ‘less than’ because the circumstances of your life did not allow for you to be as open and carefree with your heart as others are. Do not condemn the boundaries you hold as unhealthy if they protect you from people who would abuse you or take advantage of your kindness.

There is nothing wrong with being an egg.


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