You don’t get strong by accident.
You get strong by pain. By trial. By mistakes. By hurt. By perseverance.
I wish I could tell you that you’ll get strong by happiness and love and fresh flowers. Or bourbon. Or the sweet smell of babies after they’ve had a bath and they’re warm and cooing, gurgling in their fascination and surprised reaction to the colors and shapes of this big, bright, beautiful world.
But that would be untrue and cruel, to cover your eyes and lead you blindfolded down some sweet lilac path … only to push you off the cliff that you never saw under your feet and only realized existed when the soles of your feet settled only on air and your stomach dropped with you as you plummeted to yet another lesson.
Strength is earned. Sweated over. Fought for. Bled for.
And in earning that strength, you earn the right to own that strength. You didn’t get it by accident. You weren’t bequeathed strength, like a trust fund or a painting or an old cigar box with some faded letters and a patch from your dad’s Army khakis in World War II.
You became strong on your own, no matter who helped you or how. You strengthened.
It’s not something to hide or slough off, or giggle away. To deprecate or allow others to deprecate. To toss into the back of the closet like that bag of sweaters and jeans that will soon belong to someone else once you drop it off at Goodwill.
You work hard to become strong, and you work hard to STAY strong. You know it already, but it bears repeating: If strong was easy, everyone would be strong.
But it’s not. Strong is hard. Strong is elusive. Strong is a date that you want, but once she says “yes” you’re excited and terrified at the same time. What will you do now? Are you good enough?
That is strong.
Swallow hard and ring the bell. When the door opens, be ready.
*This essay first appeared in the book Live Like That by Lisbeth Darsh.