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Poise and Grace: Some People Have Them, Some People Don't

Queen LatifahQueen Latifah via

I wrote yesterday about the movie Secret Life of Bees, which I thought was wonderful.

But it pained me to watch it in one rather selfish way. Queen Latifah, in that movie, had such perfect posture, and such a quiet, wise way about her. I have always wanted both those things. It seems like posture and that quiet, wise old owl often go together. And the wise thing has nothing to do with age; I have a 16-year-old friend who always sits perfectly straight, who is also very wise. She just gives that impression.

It must have something to do with the way we carry ourselves. When we have good posture, we give the message, "I am ready to take on the world. I am strong." We also say, "I am sure of who I am. I am confident." Combine it with a gentle spirit, and you have such a beautiful mixture of virtues that people long to be with you.

Unfortunately, I slouch. Horribly. It's genetic. My father slouches, my grandfather was very stooped, and now I am, too. I did not grow up with my father, so it's not as if I copied him. But my back looks exactly the same.

I took ballet as a child, which was a good thing, because without that I'd likely be worse. But I did learn how to carry myself, which means several dozen times a day I notice that I'm slouching, and I correct it. But I can never stay that way very long. I've tried different chairs, different beds, different exercises, but nothing seems to work. I am destined to slouch.

All of that is a major problem for me, because I so want to be that wise, confident presence that I keep seeing all around me. I want to be that woman who looks like she can take on the world. I want to be the woman who gives off an air of peace, of stability, of strength. And yet I don't think I do.

Obviously there is a lot more to a confident, gentle person than not slouching. After all, some people who are ramrod straight are harsh and pointy, in more ways than one. So it's not entirely your body; but I do love that combination of outer grace and inner grace.

Maybe I focus so much on the outer grace because it's easier to cultivate than the inner grace. I'm not a very gentle person. I mostly say whatever comes to my mind, and often regret it later. I joke a lot. I can be rather loud. I'm the exact opposite of that character that I loved so much in the movie.

I suppose the answer is to start being grateful for who I am, and for trying to nurture the good that I already do have. I think I have the kind of personality that puts people at ease. I'm easy to get to know. I'm fun. And there's nothing wrong with fun. But every so often, I would just so much rather be confident and wise.

I have to go now because I'm slouching horribly in this chair, but I would really like to know if I'm totally alone, or if others of you have felt this, too. Have you ever wished your body would behave differently? Are there personality traits you're trying to cultivate? Let me know!


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At 10:02 AM , Blogger Megan said…

Whoops, caught me slouching when I opened up your blog! I don't normally slouch this much, but nursing a baby in odd positions at all hours really messes up my posture. It's something I need to be more careful of, since it ends up hurting my back. And certainly makes me look less like a lady!

I've always admired bubbly-friendly-happy personalities. Yet I simply can't find it in myself to be like that. I smile easily, but I'm much too serious to ever be that person who makes you instantly happy when you walk in the room. I guess I need to accept that about myself and move on to making people happy in quieter ways.


At 12:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I read in my devotional (Streams in the Desert) the other day a list of qualities that I aspire to: Soft, Sweet, Gentle, Restful, Victorious, Overflowing, Triumphant. The first 3 are the ones I'm working on the most. Everyday I ask the Lord to help me be soft, sweet, and gentle (because it's NOT my personality at all). Every time I speak to a family member I measure it to those 3 words: Were my words soft, sweet, and gentle? It's been wonderful to see how the Lord has worked through this. My husband sure likes it! Love, Lori


At 4:20 PM , Blogger LauraLee Shaw said…

I'm a terrible sloucher, Sheila. And I'm loud too. I have the verse about being quick to listen and slow to speak in numerous places throughout my house. TOTALLY catchin' your drift here. I have to confess, I think you're pretty special like you are, tho. ;)


At 5:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Oh I am a sloucher too! As was my mother, my grandfather and all her side of the family (sigh!).

However, when I think of my mother, and the curved back, I think of a very humble woman. Someone who was gracious, and not proud. She was confident, but not in an I'm-better-than-you way. More like she was confident in who she was as a child of God.

So even though I too will struggle with slouching, I want to be humble and gracious like her...

(still working on that!!)

sim in oz


At 12:28 PM , Blogger Ken, Christie, Camille, Caroline said…

Big sloucher here, too. I hate it, I've tried all the braces, the exercises, etc. And now I see my 13-year-old daughter with the same posture, and she's struggling with trying to correct it, too. Ugh. I always hated it when people gave me the "Don't hang your head and your shoulders, be proud of who you are," and a talk on self-esteem. It wasn't slouching on purpose, but it does give the impression of a lack of confidence.

And I have said a trillion times that I wish I could be the quiet, wise person, that woman that opens her mouth and everyone stops to listen to, knowing something good will come out. Instead, I talk too much and often am pulling my foot out of my mouth. I have reasoned, as you did, that this has benefits, because people are comfortable around me (except when they are nervous that I'm going to say the wrong thing--haha). I don't have trouble at parties or making new folks feel welcome. I jump right in on hospitality and reach out to people without a problem. So there are benefits, but I do look at the green grass on the other side of the fence and envy the poised, graceful woman, too. Thanks for the post. It's good to know I'm not the only one.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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