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Monday, 27 May 2013

Figure Out What Strength Means

Yes, I just seriously quoted a Disney cartoon.
Strength is a strange concept. It's hard to tell what it means, because it probably has different meanings in different situations. Does it make you a strong person to always show your emotions to people, or does strength come from the capability to have control and act rationally? Are you a strong person because you can be vulnerable and cry, or is the stronger person the one who doesn't cry? And what about change? I've always thought that a person who can change the situation they're in, be it a bad relationship, or a career they don't like, is strong enough to do so. Yet, simultaneously, I've also thought about the daily strength it takes to stay in a situation that isn't always so desirable.

I could go on forever thinking about it, but I'll never know the answer because it's not so cut and dry. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between being strong and having a big ego. The idea of strength isn't about having power, whereas a person's ego may strive for that. Strength is about letting go of power. It isn't always about having control and acting rationally, but sometimes it's about being vulnerable and letting yourself be transparent. When I was watching Pina (2011), a film documenting Pina Bausch's influence as a dancer, one of her students mentioned a conversation she and Pina had, where Pina told her that her strength lied in her fragility. I thought that was a beautiful thought, and something that our society forgets, as aggression and assertiveness are more valued because we are told that they are qualities that lead to success; we have to be bold and logical and impenetrable to be respected. I doubt that that's true.

Growing up, I also always felt like showing emotions was a sign of weakness, but I realize that that's a part of being human. And if like me, a person is naturally calm in situations, then that's okay too. I guess strength really comes from recognizing who you are, and learning to not fight with it all the time. Hopefully, through this acceptance, people can also recognize that everyone is struggling and everyone has a fragile and sensitive piece in who they are. I've also learned in my experiences that the people who seem the most aggressive are, most often, the most sensitive and fragile and they use that aggression to protect themselves. Appearances are quite deceiving indeed. Everyone wants to seem strong and everyone wants to be respected, but I think we need to stop aiming for what the general definition of these words mean, and try to figure it out for ourselves. Me definitely included.