What is strength anyways?
It could be defined as physical strength, and even then it could be arm strength, leg strength, and core strength and more. It could also be mental strength, the brain is a muscle of course. So as much as the gym is strength training, life is strength training as well. Everyday you’re faced with various challenges. Think of every problem you deal with as a rep. Maybe today you’re trying to pass a math test, each chapter you study could count as one repetition. Soon enough, you’re “strong” and can do spectacular on your test. But if there are so many varieties of strength, how do we compare our strength?
I think everyone has some sort of strength which also comes with weaknesses. For instance, if you’re a powerlifter, chances are, you won’t be the most graceful gymnast. However, both of those skills are recognized as a talent to want. I’ve wanted to be all of those things at some point. I wanted to be the top scholar, fastest runner, best at makeup and nail art, funniest (or punniest), most beautiful, team captain, and pretty much everything else that’s possible to “win” at. Competition drives improvement. If we didn’t have a desire to be the best, nothing would ever change in the world. Diseases wouldn’t be cured, we should all look the same, and without change, it can only get worst. So competition is great. Dog eat dog worlds are scary, but still great. Even numbness creates strength. I can barely feel my right leg right now, but it’s stronger than my left leg. Maybe I’m trying to compensate for what I don’t feel, but I guess that in itself is a metaphor. If it doesn’t feel right, try something else or try harder. Even my legs are trying to improve themselves subconsciously.
Strength is about improvement. Strength is about not giving up. Strength is about saying fuck you world, I have more to accomplish. Strength is about crying but for a good reason. Strength is about being unselfish, but still giving yourself a chance at what you want. It is not losing yourself to please others, but it is also not losing others to please yourself. I realize that sounds ironic. How can you do both? I guess that means that strength also means making the right decisions based on the situation. No, you probably can’t be a vegan and be a top bodybuilder, but who’s there to stop you if you tried?
You’re probably thinking I’m being melodramatic. “You’re not even dying yet Jessica, what do you know about any of this?” But if you think like that, then where is the line of when you have the right to say these things and think this way? Who knows. This isn’t “1984” , there’s no thought police. But there is always Big Brother. There’s always some sort of set of rules to guide us (possibly in the wrong direction) and there’s always people willing to go against those rules. If you make it your life goal to follow all the rules, it can be a show of strength. If you make it your goal to go against those rules, that’s strength too. After all of this, I still have no idea what strength really is. However, I still believe strength is about yourself. If you feel stronger, you probably are stronger.
So, strength isn’t completely comparable. You can compare individual components of strength, maybe an arm wrestling contest or a math competition, but no one can be the “world’s strongest person”. Maybe I’ll win at something today, but there’s no guarantee that I’ll be the best tomorrow. At any moment, there’s someone better than you at something else. That’s the beauty of it. You can always improve. We want to be selfish and terrible people so we can become the best person we can be.
Life is a game against ourselves. For a place where we compete against others all the time, we don’t get many “great job, you improved ribbons”. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep track of our own accomplishments. Today, I won the most UNO games against my parents and I was the patient that walked the most circles around floor 9. Congratulations Jessica, you did something today–realizing your greatness is the first step to being truly great.
So let’s all throw our hands in the air (wave them around like we just don’t care) and say my name is __________, and I’m great. I’m strong. I’m amazing. And there’s gotta be something that that I can kick your ass in today.