Do you get tired of people telling you you’re strong?
I do. I get so tired of people telling me I’m strong, as if that makes anything better for me. “You’re so strong. I don’t know how you do it.” Well, that’s because I’m mostly NOT doing it, you know? Just because I haven’t lost the struggle to get up in the morning doesn’t mean I’m succeeding. I think constantly about how much better I could be doing things, and how I don’t know how much more I can do.
I don’t know which is worse, the thought of gripping the bar for another 50 years or the idea of what happens if I slip. Don’t think I haven’t thought about getting the sailor’s HOLD FAST tattoo, but it feels like the saddest thing I can think of.
But “strong” isn’t any more of a compliment than “angry” is an insult. They’re just conditions that we may or may not be in at any given time, depending on circumstances, and fetishizing the labels is a way to justify distance. They say more about the people using them than the people to whom they’re applied.
If I get to choose my own label, I choose resilient. I am weak, so many times and constantly. But I keep coming back. I keep waking up and showing up, ready for what’s next (even when I’m not really ready). I’ve never been good at discretion, so I choose to think that resilience is the better part of valor.
I gave one of my best friends this mug when I knew she was struggling, to remind her of what she knows about herself. That she didn’t have to be strong. And she didn’t have to do things right. She just has to keep coming back.
And that’s all any of us has to do. Just keep coming back.