As a French student in Paris, my top priority was to visit the Eiffel Tower. After arriving on train from Charles de Gaulle, I left the Gare du Nord with a backpack of belongings for the semester. Loaded with books, adrenaline, fatigue, and culture shock, I walked and walked toward the steel sculpture that loomed above the rooftops.
The sun was out, and sweat ringed my underarms. I was hungry. People scurried in and out of doors, across streets, and in front of cars. Everything was foreign. I lumbered. I slumped. I continued.
The steel frame appeared larger, but not closer. The sun eventually lowered behind tall buildings. I still hadn’t eaten. I was exhausted. Sirens wailed.
How small I felt when I could no longer walk on aching feet. How small I felt when I heaved off my backpack in the Métro, relieved to sit, disappointed to admit it. How humiliating to recognize the scale of my dream in proportion to my own size.
Scale is a filter that denies our truth. How often do we diminish the hard things, the things that wear us down, corrode us? How would it feel to unload the burden? Maybe we’re afraid to admit weakness. Maybe, because we’re human, we’re afraid of comfort.
Pain aligned to worth is not worth. Pain aligned to love is not love. With self-dignity as our destination, the balance shifts from worthless to worthy, from unlovable to loved. If we are weary, we must remember how largely important and lovable we are.