Lately, I’ve been noticing my associations with the word, “strong”. I typically think someone who is strong doesn’t have emotional baggage. She doesn’t let ANYthing get to her. She doesn’t act out of line. I’ve been wondering where I got this obscure definition of strength from until I read this quote via Twitter and instantly disagreed: “Don’t let your experiences break you.”
There’s this underlying notion throughout self-help websites that imply, “If I’m not broken, I am strong.” This is insanely misleading. When life breaks you, you wake up in the middle of this desolate, brownish-yellow arena, with nothing but pointy rocks like something out of a Gorillaz music video, and you have a chance to digest the things that matter. You look at the raw version of yourself and see how you tackle “the bad” when the bad is existent. You LEARN things, things you never cared to learn because the truth was too bold and you were too distracted trying to be “strong”. Not only did you learn, but you also came out of it! You survived. Now tell me, how is that not portraying strength?
When two people break up, everyone notices the person who has moved on quickly. They assume since that person seems so jolly, the one posting Adele lyrics must be the weaker one. Wrong again. The person who is taking longer to heal is doing the bravest and most sacred act of any human existence – she is facing her life. She is not afraid to be depressed, to cry, to date, or not date. She takes the feelings as they come, even if they contradict each other within the same minute. She is building up her inner strength. She is stronger than those who hide behind pride and fear. If only those same people knew not to feel sorry, but envious. The truth is, she is worlds ahead of them.
I won’t tell you to welcome breakdowns (that seems a bit masochistic). I will, however, suggest you stop associating “strength” and “strong” with someone who “doesn’t let things get to her” or “doesn’t break down”. Be suspicious of those who refuse to face themselves; who continue to run as if they don’t realize their reflection exists. These are the people we should be concerned with. These are the people who need, “How are you doing?” the most.
So ask them.