Have you ever been told you need to be strong in a time you expressed true emotion? Did that person ever tell you you’re weak, maybe that you need to stop crying because tears are a sign of weakness? Maybe no one said this to you at all, but you admonish the thought of someone thinking you are vulnerable. You have an aversion to be viewed as a house built out of straw, that at any moment you could come crashing down into an inevitable void.
This concept applies to everyone. Here I am, encompassing my twenties, and the idea of needing to be strong crosses my mind constantly; it brings about the confusion of who I am and if who I am is even okay. There’s just one thing I need to put out there, and that is emotion is not a weakness.
At a very young age, I made the decision to be “strong,” and I can say most certainly this was one of the worst decisions of my life. I say this because who I have become is the person that I no longer want to be. I had an aversion to being weak, so I dismantled my life to pieces. I stripped myself of every quality considered to be vulnerable, that could be considered weak. I became cold, pervaded with anger, and because of this is I destroyed every quality that is vital to creating friendships, love, and trust.
I didn’t want to be weak, so I didn’t allow myself to love. To me, love was a weakness because of how much you must open your heart. I would never put myself in the position of trusting another individual, because being strong meant I only needed to rely on myself. I saw friendships as unnecessary, more like a trap. I’ve had my fair share of betrayal with those I considered my best friends. Being hurt by those you trust elicits a true heart-wrenching emotion that a person who embodies strength would not show.
I held the belief that I could survive, maybe even thrive in this world by self-reliance; I believed I would persevere through strength alone. Putting my guard up meant shielding myself from comfort and communication; I twisted my perception of what family meant to me and isolated myself from any future occurrence of disappointment or dismay. I promise you, this is not the life you want to live.
Sometimes I think strength is a weakness and weakness is a strength. It’s easy to be strong, to isolate and detach. It’s simple to downgrade your involvement in life and encompass the motto of “I don’t really care” or “it doesn’t matter.” Lack of feeling does not represent strength — I know that now. Being strong means to do the most difficult things in life; it does not mean to “stop crying” or “man up.” Being strong means valuing your emotions and have enough strength to share them with others. Being strong means creating friendships and falling in love, regardless of the inevitability of hardship and strife.
Those who have been through true betrayal know the feeling of isolation and loss. Has the question “Why bother?” ever crossed your mind? Those who choose to be strong have the answer. If you don’t bother, you will live in isolation — understand I didn’t say “thrive.” There is no such thing as thriving in a world alone. If you don’t bother, you will find yourself sitting alone and watching others sit together, laughing and in love, which I can say is a painful experience. If you don’t bother, you will turn bitter and mean, distrusting and suspicious, which is one of the worst things of all.
I want you to understand going down this road of strength will not be easy. Sometimes I feel the blackening of one’s heart is almost irreversible. Regardless of how hard you try to engage and start to open up, the dark bitterness will always seep through. I know this because I have hurt people I love by showing constant distrust, and sometimes it becomes automatic to refuse to talk things through. Going to bed angry had always been the way I did things, to internalize my anger and hurt instead of projecting it outward through communication and love. People don’t stick around for others like myself, those who procure the inner battle of strength and weakness. They leave because of its strain on relationships. It’s a puzzle that no one wants to solve. The problem is communication will not always be guaranteed and trust may cease to exist.
Through the loneliness and the pain, I have learned the best lesson of all. I’ve learned that love is always worth it. I’ve learned that it will always be worth it to try. I know this because choosing to live alone will never be a life truly lived.
Weakness is the ability to love, and weakness is making the choice to trust that happiness will always find its way back to you.
Today, I encourage you to be weak.