Strength = What does it mean to be strong?

Hello friend, it’s been awhile. It has been three weeks since I arrived from Spain from my major procedure and recovery has been so excruciatingly exhausting but as always I need to stay strong and remain determined. But if I were to be brutally honest, I am completely worn out, fatigued and especially tired for putting up a strong front most of the time.

So what does it mean to be strong?

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The dictionary defines it as:

1. the quality or state of being strong; bodily or muscular power; vigor

2. mental power, force, or vigor.

3. moral power, firmness, or courage

4. power by reason of influence, authority, resources, numbers, etc.

In a nutshell, strength can be defined through a state of power either in muscular, mental or influence in authority. Therefore, any type of strength is an excellent quality to have in a person. However, is it always a quality we must enforce on ourselves? This is what my blog entry will try to uncover today.

I never really spoke much about this publicly but I think I to have a better understanding of the context, I would like to share a short anecdote:

At the young age of 10, my mother passed away of Pancreatic cancer. I hate the feeling of pity and weakness. I had an absurd assumption that people pitied me because I never grew up without a mother and therefore was helpless and weak. Ever since, I defined myself as a strong woman to the people around me — who eventually built walls around her, always on her guard and never showing any sign of vulnerability.

If you did a quick survey of people who knew me, I’m guessing 8 out 10 would describe me as strong. Even ask my family, they know that I never cry when I’m sad only when I’m frustrated. This strong personality has always been a trademark characteristic of mine. Besides who wouldn’t want to be identified as a strong person? It is such an amazing characteristic to have. Being headstrong attracts a lot of great opportunities and great people — it gives a person confidence to overcome challenges with such an attitude.

Then why even question the idea of strength?

As I go through my personal cross, recently a very wise person advised me, “Pia, it’s okay to show vulnerability. It is okay to admit that at this moment you are weak and by admitting this, you are actually exhibiting strength.” At first, I was confused? I didn’t understand… Vulnerability not a sign of weakness rather strength? For a second, I was dumbfounded. Then he further explained this thought by saying, “by being vulnerable, you are showing your truest self to everyone and proving that you have no fear rather courage to face anything.”

This new thought shattered my false truth of the need to always be strong in front of people. I felt liberated! This ongoing experience has taught me that it is okay to say “I’m hurt, I’m happy or I’m tired because this is who I am and what I am feeling at the moment” — and it takes a lot of courage to admit these things. I may have realized that my strong front may have hindered me from being true to myself and to others at times.

But my final learning from this is that: strength and vulnerability go hand in hand, there should always be a balance. And that I realized I shouldn’t be so hard on myself all the time — that I can admit, Hey it’s okay to say I’m frustrated, sad or hurt sometimes. We all do. We just need the courage to recognize it, then do something about it.

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Newly vulnerable but always hopeful,

P

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