January 9th, 2021
Stay strong. Be strong. You're so strong. I'm sure everyone has heard those words sometime in their life.
Wow, you're so strong.
Sometimes, it's really nice to hear. Thanks for acknowledging all the hard work I put into...well, just surviving in this crazy universe.
But other times, I think to myself, I'm not that strong yet. Not really. I see the unimaginable situations others have survived, things I have never experienced. In my life I have had no true and enduring grief. I have had no sudden or unexpected loss. I've grown up in a great home, with a supportive family. I have wonderful friends that mean the world to me (not very many, but I do have them), enough intelligence to do decently in school, and the best dog anybody ever asked for.
This is not me "flexing" how good and perfect and awesome my life is. This is me acknowledging that I live a relatively very privileged life. Yet, somehow, I still struggle to make it through the day sometimes. Even after all these blessings that surround me, life sometimes feels insurmountable.
Sometimes I don't feel so strong.
When the assignments and the stress are piling up and it literally feels like my back is breaking, I don't feel very strong. When I feel physical pain in my arms, my shoulders because of the imaginary backpack, heavy with obligation and expectation, that I always carry - I don't feel very strong.
Everything "gets" to me. I think it's because I'm young, but that doesn't change the fact that it's still hard. In my life, the biggest challenges I've had to face, and that I do face daily, are in my head. My overamplified emotions that have been louder-than-normal since I was young. My inability to slip neatly into the "in crowd". Daydreamer, careless, clueless. ADD, stress, anxiety, low self esteem, loneliness, anger, perfectionism, unmotivation. I am not strong all of the time. I don't always win. Sometimes I do let life get to me. Sometimes I don't fight back. I think to myself, "Why is this so difficult? Shouldn't it be easy to get my life together? Why does everything feel like such a mess?"
Because it is a mess.
And that's okay.
You see, I think too many of us are afraid to share our messy lives with the world. So we live under the assumption that everyone's got it all together. Other people can stay organized - not me. Other people live free of anxiety - not me. Everyone else is happy all the time, smiling, joyful, why do I feel sad sometimes? Why don't I get straight As, why don't I make as much money as they do, why aren't I as good as they are, as smart, as nice, as perfect, why why why?
Meanwhile, everyone else is struggling with the same thoughts. Everyone else might be comparing themselves to you.
Everyone else might think you are strong. Inside, you think you aren't. Do you see where the distortion is?
We need to be okay with our own weakness. We need to accept our own shortcomings. That's why I share my struggles with you. I don't want anyone to think that I am perfect or that I have my life together. I'm so far away from having anything together. I'm like 20 million lightyears away.
Strength is a wonderful thing. Physical strength makes it easier to move through life. Mental strength and resilency carries us through tough times. Without any strength, none of us would have been able to get through this year. However, it is essential not to pretend we are always strong and that we never break.
Let's face it. We all break. Some of us - likely all of us - break every single day. Many of us are hiding a lifetime of small cracks beneath a perfectly polished facade. Don't let it get too far. It's okay to be broken. It's okay to be weak. We are human.
Humans are flawed and breakable. Humans are also magnificently resilent. It's part of the mystery of human nature.
Flaunt both sides of yourself. Yes, you do have a beautiful inner strength. You also possess a beautiful inner vulnerability. To paint an honest view of who we are, we have to look at the whole picture, not overlooking the aspects of ourselves we think are ugly, messy, broken.
We are not superhuman. We are not less than human.
You are not superhuman, and you are certainly not and will never be less than human.
We are human.
So maybe you are weak in some ways. But truthfully you are strong, too. Strong enough to survive this messy, crazy world. So you do deserve credit for that. You're going to make it. You might - scratch that, you will - trip and fall flat on your face a couple times along the way. Life will throw curveballs. You will make mistakes. You will experience grief, sorrow and heartbreak.
But you're going to make it. Life will be good, too, despite all that. Life will be beautiful. I promise.
What a gift it is to be breathing, inhaling and exhaling. What a gift.