When Strong Looks Weak: What To Do When You’ve Lost Your Strength by Rania Naim Ivan Mandić Ivan Mandić If you’ve never felt completely, utterly helpless, consider yourself lucky but also allow me to explain what it’s really like. I feel helpless as I work countless hours in job that barely pays my bills. I feel helpless as I struggle to find enough time in the day to even brush my teeth, let alone do anything relaxing. I feel helpless as I part-ways with my husband at the start of everyday knowing that we won’t have any time to connect the rest of that day. I feel helpless when the car needs yet another repair that I can’t afford. When the sink is full of dishes, my phone bill is due, and I have my 4th headache this week, I feel completely defeated. Yet, I know I am not alone. I know that countless people are facing challenges that make strength seemingly impossible to find. We live in a world that has no problem telling us to “keep trying” when we face hell and high water, but no one is ever able to tell you how to do that. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned it’s that we don’t get to choose what life throws our way. But we do get to choose how we respond to it and we can always choose strength. The trouble comes when we fail to see that sometimes the choice isn’t going to be easy. Sometimes strength isn’t going to be obvious option or even the accessible option. Sometimes our problems will overshadow our strength so much that we don’t even realize we have it. Most importantly, sometimes strength becomes distorted during our storms. Strength doesn’t always look like we imagine. It’s not always being solid as a rock through your hardships. Being strong doesn’t mean that nothing bothers you. It doesn’t mean you never break down and cry. It doesn’t mean you never need support to a friend to listen. Being strong means that no matter what the day holds, you choose to face it head on. Being strong means that you’re going to decide for yourself that even though everything seems to be a mess, that mess can and will eventually be cleared away. Being strong means that you’re going to hold onto hope, faith, and a belief in your own abilities instead of fear, anger, and desperation. Am I always calm and composed? No chance. Do I always know exactly what to say and do? Absolutely not. But I am always, always strong as hell and there’s no one who could ever convince me otherwise. I am strong because I get out of bed in the morning and I make the most of everything I have and everything I am. I am strong because when life gets tough, I get tougher. When you feel like things are just never going to be OK. When you feel deflated and like you have used every bit of strength you’ve got. Don’t give up. Do not accept defeat and do not let life kick you while you’re down. When you feel that you’ve lost your strength, build more. Lean on those around you who love you and care about you. Turn off your phone for an hour and forget the demands the world is making of you. Buy a gossip magazine and hideout in your bathtub for an hour. When you have hit your bottom and you can’t take it anymore, remember everything you had to go through to get to this moment. Remember that every single person you’ve ever known has been or will be where you are at some point. So whether you need to cry, scream, or eat a pint of ice cream, I am here to tell you, you’re entitled to it. Your strength can never truly be gone, but it can be lost in the layers of pain, sadness, and stress. But you are permitted and encouraged to do whatever you need to do to find your voice, your song, and your strength once again. [tc-mark