Being “Strong” and What it Really Means

In 2020, the clichés have been soaking up the atmosphere between people’s 2m distance.

Stay Safe.

Take care.

Be strong.

But, in a world where there’s no real time to facilitate these practices, how do you know what to do? What’s the best action to take, when you have no lucidity in their meaning? Especially to “stay strong”. Because frankly, what does that really mean?

The pandemic has caused more than just illness. It has sparked a domino effect of experiences that put pressure on our mental wellbeing. From those who’ve had to continue working on the frontline, living in fear of their health and being separated from their families, to those who’ve been confined to the indoors, alone, or not, living in the pressure cooker environment which can ignite the psychological fire, and everything in-between. No matter where you sit in this chain, no repercussion is free of struggle.

This is why discussing the notion of being strong is really important. Before all of this happened, understanding these 2 little words was hard enough. But now, with all of these new ramifications, it’s even more pressing.

So, what does it mean? Carrying on with a smile on your face, denying the burdens you hold in your heart? Keeping emotions locked up tight, key tossed away, ignoring their existence? To a degree, we all have to do this. But saying that is like me asking you to hold your breath. It’s possible, but only for so long. Eventually, it all has to come out, and it’s going to either end in a lot of gasping for air, or worse, never breathing again.

Nevertheless, we can’t spend our lives in tears, either. That’s pretty obvious. There’s a time and a place for that. Of course, sometimes a situation causes that unleash without warning, and you have to work out the best way to release it without sacrificing your motivation to carry on. Striking that balance is key. And yet, with our emotional spectrum so vast, it’s important to note that cognitive osmosis can only be achieved by going through every state required, not by rejecting one as “weak”.

We often associate sadness with weakness and vulnerability. We stigmatise worrying, fear and upset as negative emotions. We then, therefore, feel guilty when we experience them. It’s as though they’re something we shouldn’t feel. But, in actual fact, they can be the very emotions to assimilate change.

Being content is, although a somewhat desirable place to be, also potentially a place of emotional stagnancy. Our satisfaction with life is what encourages our thought process. If we are content, we see no reason to change things. If we are not, our emotions guide us a new direction to follow. This is why it is so greatly important to feel “negative” emotions. They are the guiding light when the shadows descend upon us. To deny them is to stumble around blindly in the dark. Being strong involves understanding that these feelings are not there to be inconveniently dramatic. They’re there to show you that things need to change.

Sometimes we have to experience short-term pain in exchange for potential happiness. We have to realise that our current heartache doesn’t have to last forever. Bad people and good people exist in the world, they can shut us down or open up our world. But we have to be strong enough to keep trying to let new ones in, even though some bad ones have left us hurt before. Life is an emotional lottery, full of lessons. Being strong means accepting these lessons will always happen, some inside and others outside of our control, and we must not let our fear of them happening stop us from living.

Sometimes, the odds may seem stacked against us. We may well have dealt with them many times before and convince ourselves that we’re stuck in a turnstile. But being strong means assessing what is troubling us, what makes us feel happy and what we realistically want from our lives. This means feeling EVERYTHING. If we deny ourselves one of those emotions, it won’t be clear how to navigate the rest of the journey, and we’ll end up stuck in the loop forevermore. We owe it ourselves to take a leap of faith, even if it means doing it more than once.

So, my advice to you is that if you need to cry, cry. If you want to smile, then smile. Being strong means allowing yourself to experience these things as part of learning how to tackle life’s curveballs. Nothing needs to stop you from moving forward. Even when it feels like all hope is gone, don’t bottle it up. Let it out. The people that see it may be the red-caped heroes you never knew you had.

SIDE NOTE: This blog has been written as part of my annual reminder to persevere, as 5 years ago I was at my absolute lowest ebb. I won’t lie. Life hasn’t been a bed of roses since I began this venture, but it’s definitely had plentiful upsides, too. And, as time goes on, every experience I’ve had (be them good or bad) has made me a “stronger” individual. This doesn’t mean that I no longer cry, laugh, worry or love. It means I trust myself to experience them all and not be overwhelmed by them. Instead, I use them to help readjust my perspective. Below are some tips I found that helped make this change possible. I hope that they help you too. Thank you for reading.

8 Mindset Strengthening Tips For the New Year


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