The picture/quote below leaves me both conflicted and inspired. ‘Strength’ has many meanings. Some motivational and others dangerous. Like “stoic” and “tough”. My entire life I have been told how strong/tough/stoic I am. But I am not. I am not writing this to be humble or self-deprecating. This is the truth. I was told this for overcoming things. Cancer, lupus, kidney failure, abuse but (excuse me for saying so) this is life. Horrible things happen to people everyday. But one still has to breathe…people have no choice but to move through this. It doesn’t make you a hero, It doesn’t make you more resilient than the poor single mother selling all her worldly possessions to feed her children, it certainly DOES NOT make you more or even a better human than the teenager that finds herself homeless and drug addicted in a deserted highway rest stop bathroom. These are all circumstances we have found ourselves in. There are choices we make in life. People do not choose to have cancer or lupus or decide to have deficiencies that create a need to self medicate.
So some people make it to the other-side. They survive. All have scars; physical and emotional. The effects of such may show themselves or maybe not. Maybe the tragic are “winning battles (others)…know nothing about”. And they are told they are strong and tough. But they aren’t. They feel weak. They want to reach out but they can’t because the constant stream of supposed compliments for surviving and overcoming makes them stifle these needs. They don’t speak up because then they are the anti-hero; weak, pitiful, needy, a burden. So you have to be strong still because YOU are a *SURVIVOR*!
But… what if strength is being weak- what if being a hero means saving yourself- how about; surviving means falling apart?! And letting people see. Let people know. Take off the mask and stop hiding. You may have climbed the mountain; you may have even sprinted the mountain; you could have kicked that mountain’s ass and did what 99.9% of the world’s population won’t even attempt and stood up there with a smile on your face, hands raised in triumph, and a tremble in your leg not just for a medal but for a cause bigger than you and that does not make a hero, mister. The next day when the soreness seeps in and the medal goes in the closet, you are still you. And honestly, very few people really care and most are tired of hearing about this ‘triumph’ of yours….I mean, the cause’s triumph.
The hero is the one that admits how tough the journey is. The moments you wanted to stop. Bloody socks/ chafed thighs/ missed time goals/ shame filled skipped trainings/ perfectionism and type ‘A’ drive that pushes you to the brink of exhaustion. The hard first mile. The excruciating last mile. A fear that you won’t be strong enough to make it to the start line. The humility to admit to your humanity. The light to guide through all-that-dark. Everyone has some light * but everyone has dark also.
Adapt/conform/don’t make waves/ be cheerful/ motivate/behave/ endure/be effective/ proactive/ responsible/ superstar/machine/champion/victor
Be you. Be genuine. Talk about your challenge(s). Show your pain and use your pain. Carry your burden and help others carry theirs when you can. Most importantly; Let them carry yours when you need it.
The stoic and Spartans and hard hearted guarded ones who never showed weakness and haven’t let others know their pain may have been called heroes. They might have even saved a life and inspired a revolution. But you know what else they did? They left a legacy for their children and children’s children. They probably died younger than they could have had they reached out a time or two. And so will their prodgeny.
I was “tough” and I was “strong” and I was “stoic”. I never cried and would not complain. I was well behaved. I did not speak unless spoken to. I was seen and not heard. I did as I was told. I made good grades. I turned in all assignments on time with extra credit. I was always respectful. I did not challenge the way things had always been. I became successful. And it almost killed me. I hope my children are nothing like me. I pray my children are much more than I was able to be; and that is REAL.