Oftentimes, strength refers to physical ability, the power of one’s muscles. Sometimes it is handling a difficult situation well, not breaking down, keeping it together. But, frankly, sometimes strength is getting out of bed in the morning, brushing your teeth, and going to work. There are times even the smallest things require great strength.
It is funny how our perceptions of strength have changed.
A hundred years ago, strength was lying about your age to sneak into the military or staying home to raise children. Strong was mainly a masculine term and it meant you didn’t cry, you got up and threw some dirt on it. Strength was keeping it together, no matter what, and it was selfish to focus on yourself. Humans kept everything bottled up and put on a face when something was wrong.
While a soldier and mother are still noble professions, as we have progressed as a society, we have learned more about mental health, equality, and the opportunities offered. We have learned to better take care of ourselves and others. We know that emotions and feelings are not a sign of weakness. And we know that it takes strength to overcome struggles with our mental health.
Ultimately, strength is different for everyone.
We all face different trials and tribulations. Some of us overcome homelessness, cancer, disability, and other difficulties others could not even begin to imagine. Those people are undeniably strong. But there is strength in all of us. Being a good parent or a good friend, taking steps to improve your health, seeing a therapist, or going back to school all take an immense amount of strength, too.
I believe that we all build our own form of strength to face our own struggles. Hopefully, we can do our best to help others have strength, as well: to be there to listen, pick them up when they are down, be the shoulder to cry on, or the sounding board for ideas. After all, at the end of the day, we are all in it together.
Emily Vondrak, President of Sioux City Growth Organization