I’ve been thinking about strength. Not physical strength, something more like strength of character, the emotional or mental strength you need when the time finds you. We’ve all been there. Something happens in life, something challenging, frightening, or sad. And, although it never seems like it in the moment, you muster your strength, soldier on, and get through it. But where does that strength come from? Does it build over the years? Does it develop in your body the way muscle does, worked and exercised until it can lift its load? Or does it come upon you suddenly, like adrenaline; something that is just built in you for those purposes that bring it forth? Is it given to you by others, the people who are inevitably there to give those words of reassurance? Or is it through faith in something stronger than yourself?
I like to think that its a blend of all of those things. So much of my life I’ve spent trying to avoid the moments where I would need that kind of strength. And only recently have I come to the point where I can see that by doing so I have missed out on something incredible. Do you ever just pray and hope and beg and plead to not fail at something? Of course you do. We all do. We humans hate the feeling of failure because it reminds us of our humanity. But when you fail, or when someone you love is sick, or when your heart is broken, something inside you (perhaps not right away) pushes you, even if just a little bit, to overcome.
When I was younger I was really good at quitting things. I rode horses for a while but when I fell off one I literally never got back on. There was that time I played soccer but was truly terrified of the ball and so I moved on to a different sport, field hockey. I was good at field hockey but didn’t want to play in high school because I was intimidated by the other girls on the team. I took guitar lessons for a while but quit that too because…practicing was hard. You get the idea. Really it all came down to a fear of being hurt or being humiliated. I avoided a season of life where I could have cultivated a strength of character.
Perhaps its because I’ve matured and crossed the threshold from mid-twenties to late-twenties (gasp) but I’ve finally grown to appreciate and respect hard work, failure, challenges, and the reality of life. Life is freaking hard. Let’s just say it. Its not pretty at times. But the more challenges I face and the more risks I take the more I am noticing my own strength. And that is such a beautiful thing! I now treasure the times in my life that have been hardest because I can look back and think, “Wow, I actually made it through that…” And I know that those experiences build strength deep within me, strength that will get me through the next tough thing. And suddenly, the things I feared no longer hold me back.
So the next time you have a chance to fail, or when the thing you were dreading happens, lean in to it, let it happen, look it square in the eye, and let it show you the strength that you never realized was there.
If all else fails just listen to Amelia Earhart because that woman was tough as nails.
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”