Most of my life, I have been told that I am strong. It started when I was 12, after my Dad died, and extended family repeatedly told me that I had to be strong for my mom and my sisters. I proudly assumed the role. It came naturally. As I got older, I was strong for my friends, my coworkers, and people I mentored. I have always prided myself on being the person people could lean on: putting my own worries and fears aside. I began to wear my strength as a badge, a brand, a trait that had to shine through no matter what. My strength overcame all other emotions.
But, over the past few months—while dealing with the stress of working from home with a toddler, pregnancy, a global pandemic, insensitive and hurtful comments about racial inequality, and the unexpected death of a family member—I’ve realized that strength is not about ignoring emotions or hardships.
Strength is about being resilient.
Strength is not about forcing yourself to push through. It’s about recognizing that you may feel sad or defeated today but, not allowing yourself to stay in that place forever. Strength doesn’t mean you ignore all other emotions, it means that you feel all of the emotions, give yourself time to heal, then pick yourself up. It means that you learn from tough experiences instead of letting them destroy you. Finding the lesson after failure, finding your smile after months of grieving, and getting up after being knocked down are examples of true strength.
“Strength doesn’t always roar loud like a lion, sometimes strength is a tiny voice in the back of your head that whispers that you will try again tomorrow.” – Tunde Oyeneyin