What 'being strong' means to me
What does it mean to be strong?
It's a question I have asked myself - and anyone who cared enough - through most of my life. As someone who has had a not-so-ample body-frame, I have always been hounded by the 'weak' label.
We live in a world where 'physical strength' not only takes precedence over other aspects of health but has also come to mean many things, including beauty and aesthetics! We live in a world where strength has to 'look' a certain way and the sole qualifier is limited to the physical.
Which - at best - is just one dimension of strength. I know I'm physically strong 'enough' when my immunity system isn't collapsing on me and I can lug my 60-litre Quechua with ease.
For me, there exists another ambit of strength - an invisible, subtle, and more critical form. It’s the kind of strength that’s ensured I have a more holistic outlook towards the world around me.
It's the kind of strength that has led me to believe that:
I am strong because I am vulnerable
It seems like an antithesis right? I am strong because I am vulnerable?
There is something alluring - and equal parts terrifying - about allowing yourself to feel vulnerable. To stand there bare to the bone and admit that 'Yes, this is who I am, this is how I feel and I feel okay about it', requires a helluva lot of strength.
Especially because we're socialized into pulling off the look where everybody says they’re fine!
At the end of the day, irrespective of who you are, the position you hold and status you occupy, the gender you belong to, the age-group you are in, etc etc etc there’s a certain threshold before the proverbial dam bursts; which turns out to be a bigger mess to deal with than admitting that you are susceptible to feeling vulnerable.
I held on to my illusion of being invincible until very recently. And then, this realization that there is a certain charm in getting off the pedestal I had found myself on, made it possible - not easy - for me to consider my own vulnerabilities.
I allow myself to be vulnerable even with people I don’t know - within reasonable limits - through my blogs by penning thoughts, however raw and unformatted they may seem and risking perceptions that come with that when sharing them with the rest of the world, undauntedly.
I am strong because I'm learning to not judge
For me, not judging is linked with admitting to myself my vulnerabilities, my human-ness, and with that the possibilities of being prone to failure and fear, among many other things. Sadly, accepting our human-ness is exactly what we have been taught about. Being vulnerable is possible when you’re not judging – i.e. when you're not judging yourself.
When I speak about risking myself to the perceptions that arise from people reading my blogs, it means that I’ve taken that first step to not judge the person I am.
Instead, I observe.
In return, it teaches me not to judge people, even the ones who may be judging me.
Over time, I have developed the ability to not take another’s judgment to heart.
Pro tip: To recognize that we judge ourselves is to also begin recognizing how we judge those around us.
I am strong because I choose to be me
Yup, 'choosing to be me' is a choice that has to be exercised.
Thanks to how most of us have been socialized, without the readiness and the willingness to risk getting acquainted with our vulnerabilities and developing the ability to be non-judgmental (about them), it's a Sisphyean task to choose oneself.
For me, choosing myself is an everyday decision; one that needs me to acknowledge that as I adapt, I also hone and develop various aspects that enrich my personality.
I am strong because I don’t take myself too seriously
I can laugh at myself and I can laugh with people, not at them. The absurdity and the irony we find ourselves constantly surrounded by is a reminder that life is too short to be taken seriously.
Humour helps me be open and accepting while living the moment without expectations, and yet be mindful. 'Skinnygenus' was the first step in the direction for me – I turned my woes into a source of entertainment, not just for me but even those reading about it.
I have learned to laugh at my quirks and that’s taught me how to not get offended anymore any time a reference is being made to my not-so-ampleness. I’ve extended this to the ways in which I choose to cope with many other bizarre occurrences as well (without losing my mind, that is).
I am strong because I am work in progress
I am still learning – what are the things that make me human, how I can take them in my stride, by not denying their existence, and topping all of it with a dash of sass! Everything gets better with a dash of sass.
Even as I lay down the attributes that have helped me learn about my own strengths, I'd be a fool if I didn't confess that: I’m vulnerable because I am strong!
P.S.: I’ve been told I make it seem like I have it all too easy…