When I was maybe seven, I lifted the corner of a heavy two-drawer chest and said, “Look at me! I’m strong!”
I was taught to be physically strong growing up. My mom has always been a hard worker and I watched as she just got things done. She didn’t always wait for my dad to lift something for her. When my dad started traveling a lot, she had to do a lot on her own. And since my brothers were somewhere—on missions? married? working? I don’t remember—my sisters and I helped my mom where we could. That meant we had to be physically strong. (We once moved from our childhood home to another house across town without my dad. Granted, my brother and some neighbor help were there, but my mom, my sisters, and I did a lot of moving without them before the big moving day.)
I haven’t always been in the best shape, but I’ve been able to hold my own—helping lift couches, carrying heavy boxes, lugging ginormous suitcases up three flights of stairs… Chef Comte has said more than once, “Do you need help? I’m right here. That thing is heavy, for anyone. Let me help you.” I’m maybe a little too stubborn when it comes to showing I am strong and capable.
That’s physically strong. I’d like to feel stronger. But that’s not really what I mean by this post’s title, “I am strong.” It’s much more than that.
As some of you may recall, I quit my job back in July because of anxiety. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out my post I Quit My Job Because of Anxiety.
When I quit, I experience a lot of guilt. I felt weak and unsuccessful and like a failure. I felt like I lost my identity. I have worked in an office since college and now I was stepping back and asking myself if this was the best career option for me and my mental wellness. I started asking myself who I really am and what I really want to do. I felt lost, confused, worthless.
Honestly, I’m still working through those feelings. But what has helped is a mantra I created a few months ago (see My Story) to remind myself that I am of worth and I am strong. For me to take this leap of faith, to step away from something that was not healthy for me, to venture into the unknown and work toward something that is scary, that makes me vulnerable, that gets me out of my shell and makes me open myself up to others, I am not weak. I am strong.
What do I mean when I now say, “I am strong”?
I can do this. I can be a writer. I can go through these crazy life changes. I can be without Chef Comte for six months. I can live with my parents again for a while. I can be away from my friends and the life I have come to know these last few years.
I don’t have to be perfect, but I can try this—this thing, whatever it is. I can do this yoga posed—if I fall out, I’ll just try again and again until I get it. I can write a blog and publish my thoughts for others to see. I can start posting more on social media even though I’ve always been so scared to put myself out there so much.
I can fail and it’s okay. I’m strong enough to get through it and try again or rethink my decision.
I can get through theses feelings and heal from the anxiety I’ve felt over the last few years.
I can rediscover who I am, the part of myself that I love.
I can be me. It’s okay to be me. It’s great to be me.
I am strong mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, not because I can lift a bazilion pounds (you crossfit people are amazing!), or have the amazing mental balance of a very seasoned yogi, or never break down, or whatever. I am so imperfect, have a lot to work on, and will probably never be some of those things I just said.
I am strong because I am trying, because I took a leap of faith, because I’m not giving up. I’m moving forward.
I know this post was all about me, me, me, me, me. But I hope you find it helpful. I think we tend to believe we are weak when we really are strong. Unfortunately, the perception the world offers is misleading.
What do you think? What makes a person strong?