Wednesday, May 21, 2014

52 Projects: #4 Strength

What is it to be strong? When I think of a strong person my mind immediately jumps to a beefy man with a crazy mustache pulling a bus. I have noticed however, that is not really the most impressive show of strength.

Sure we are impressed by beefy mustache man, but that pales when compared to a young man who is terminal and is choosing to live the remainder of his life in service and love to those around him [true story].

We are constantly bombarded with stories of strength on our various social media outlets. Stories of people overcoming hardship, deciding to take action and be in control of their bodies, people standing up for what they believe despite the hate that they will receive. You don’t need me to tell you what strength looks like, cause we all know.

The true question is: do you know your own strength?

As a culture we are addicted to success stories. Overcoming poverty, losing 500 pounds, building a life from nothing, beating a disease etc. We should be excited about these stories, because they are amazing, and they depict our dreams becoming reality, inspiring us to know that it is all possible because so many others have done it before us.

However, these stories have a tendency to make it look easy. They are at the end of their journey, they can easily flip back to "before" and show the drastic difference that seemed to happen in a matter of minutes, or however long the video is. This does not prepare our minds for the hardship and endurance it takes to be strong.

To be emotionally strong you must endure emotional pain. To be physically strong, you must endure physical pain, and so on. Pain is the means to having strength, you cannot have one without the other.

Fear is the antitheses of Strength. We fear pain, and probably for good reason. It is not enjoyable, people try to avoid it. We were created to avoid it. However, I believe it is not so clear-cut. Pain has a purpose and if we allow it to do its job, it can greatly benefit us.  

Strength begins in our mind; mentally conquering our fear of pain. The type of pain that strengthens us not the kind that keeps you from making poor choices like jumping off cliff. Some fears are good, healthy even. Common sense will get you far in life.

What I am saying is in order to persevere and reach your goal, it is probably going to hurt a bit. But that’s ok.

At least, this is what I am trying to learn. I have let my fear of pain keep me from pursuing my goals. I want to stop thinking that one day I will become strong, and start seeing myself as already being strong.

Already I have surpassed some of my expectations. I had a baby completely naturally. At first I was terrified, but I was able to {somewhat} prepare myself mentally for how to manage the pain. Many of the tactics reminded me of things I have always done when dealing with pain- may it be on a long run, or at the dentist. My presence of mind was completely different during this delivery compared to my first. I have a new understanding and appreciation of pain.

I painted this little canvas as a symbol of strength, or rather as something to encapsulate the journey. I hope to continue the rest of this year overcoming my fear and pursuing a strength of mind and of body.