On Strength

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You don’t know if you’re strong or not until you have to lift something really heavy. Before that, you assume you are, but you don’t really know. You figure you could handle anything because you always have and your mum drilled a mantra into you like, “You’re a strong person. You won’t let this get to you. You’re better than that.” And you believed it. Or the fact that she believed it in every moment you wanted to quit, that was enough.

But one day you’re going to be dealt something the equivalent of the highest setting on one of those machines at the gym, where your legs literally won’t move anymore. And replaying inspirational quotes in your head will only get you so far. Katy Perry songs will work as motivators, then they won’t. And that’s when you’ll figure out if you’re strong, or not.

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What I really hate is this one quote that gets bandied around a lot on FB and Twitter, and regardless of religion, I think it’s bullshit. That god only gives you a level of crap you can deal with (*I don’t think they used the word crap). That “he’ll” never pile more on to you than you can actually handle (whether or not there’s a god is anyone’s guess, but there sure as shit is no gender attached if there is). That everything that happens is a trial, a challenge, a lesson to learn, part of the rich tapestry of life, filled with ups and downs and problems to overcome.

But what if crappy stuff just happens? What if there’s no lesson to learn from it? What if you have too much to handle? Isn’t it better to admit that you’re struggling than pretend it’s a part of some grand quest an invisible being has sent to you for unspoken reasons?

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Strength isn’t pretending everything’s okay when it isn’t. Strength is admitting you might not be able to lift the really heavy thing which seems to have pinned you to floor, like a cartoon tonne falling on Tom, dropped by Jerry from a great height. That maybe your roster is a little much for one person, and not being able to handle everything you’ve been dealt isn’t weakness.

Strength is about seeing your limitations. About asking for help. Knowing that whether you learn a lesson or not, whether there’s an inspirational quote which sums it up or not, you’re strong because even though the shit got to you, you were in the bin and thought you might never get out again, you carried on anyway. You figured out your process and you moved forward in any way you could like you were fighting for your life. Your complicated, ridiculously tricky, unlearnable-from, unswappable, questionable, ache-making, un-sum-up-able life. But yours. All yours.

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