On Callouses

“Her heart was so calloused…”

“He was calloused and uncaring…”

I don’t know why callouses get such a bad rap.

Recently a number of my long-time single friends have started new relationships. And I’ve been told twice in the past week alone (both times by people with brand-new boyfriends), “I just hope you find someone who makes you happy, too.”

Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate the sentiments. And I know they’re saying it in part as a sort of apology: “I’m really happy right now, but I’ve been where you’re at, and I’m sorry you’re still there.” Like they expect me to be bitter about it.

Two years ago, I might have been. Now I’m genuinely happy. And it’s because I’m calloused.

Callouses serve an important function. Imagine you’re walking in a new pair of shoes. At first your feet will blister, but eventually, as you wear them more, two things happen: your shoes conform to your feet, and your feet develop callouses.

Or say you’re learning guitar. The strings are sharp, so at first the skin on your fingers will get cut up. Eventually, though, the skin will toughen up with callouses. And you’ll be able to play longer and better because of it.

Over the last few years I’ve been increasingly practicing joy in the realm of singleness. And it’s been toughening my heart, and I’m building callouses. And it’s a good thing.

2 Comments on “On Callouses

  1. I think calluses get a bad rap because our culture promotes certain ideas of beauty over the function or endurance a callus can provide.

  2. I didn’t assume bitter, although I would have in the past. I assumed possibly somewhat wistful, if anything. And I didn’t mean it so much as an apology as just wanting the same sort of thing for you. Your life is good right now. My life pre-relationship was good, and as you know, it wasn’t that I was out there actively looking for this. But being in a relationship seems to have the potential to be pretty darn awesome (and stretching. and terrifying. but still awesome.), and I’d like that for you at some point, because you’re my friend and I want awesome things to happen to you.

    And I think calluses can be good, as long as they don’t become unbreakable shells to hide behind. That’s all.