300 Writing Prompts #12: Pillars of Strength

What, in your opinion, is strength?

Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”

– C. Joybell C.

Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end up really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.

– Mahatma Gandhi

“A man’s emotions are what define him, and control is the hallmark of true strength. To lack feeling is to be dead, but to act on every feeling is to be a child.”

Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

To be honest, I have eyed this writing prompt for months. Even during my hiatus, I always found myself coming back to this prompt and staring at it. For a time, it consumed my thoughts as I did not have a concrete answer that I could truly believe in. I could have generated some cliche answer that sounded really good on paper but that wasn’t what I wanted.

“You are inexperienced. So was I once. So is every man. The measure of a person is not how much they have lived. It is not how easily they jump at a noise or how quickly they are to show emotion. It is in how they make use of what life has shown them.”

Waxillium Ladrian, The Alloy of Law

But I think I have an better idea of what I consider strength and I think my ideal has been tempered with my experiences over the last few years.

By definition, strength is the capacity to resist force or pressure and I believe strongly that this isn’t just about being physically strong. I think that it too narrow minded and doesn’t due the word justice. If anything, the physical aspect of strength is only one side of a two sided coin. Most people don’t really consider the mental properties of the word in a general sense and it can be defined different as it may mean something different to different people. However, no matter how you look at it, we all crave and seek out it out on some form or another.

Strength manifests itself in many forms, from the aforementioned physical dominance of those such as world’s strongest man Martin Licis or the world’s strongest woman in Jenny Todd. To those who show their strength in fortitude, such as Mahatma Gandhi who became a beacon of strength that still shines bright to this day as he challenged an empire and succeeded in change without ever raising a hand.

No one is born to be destined to be a hero, at least not anymore. I believe those qualities are forged by experience. Heart, guts, and moxie has their qualities and often times they are a enough to spring someone into action. But I think it is much more to it that.

And before I continue, I am not saying that dismisses the inherit call to arms that some people have naturally.

I think strength is a understanding of what is required of you in any given moment and being able to act on it with a sense of confidence of knowing that you tried and are willing to accept the chips where they fall. So often, we ridicule and shame those who have been stricken by fear or simply cannot find it in them do act without considering or weighing what they could lose or what their consequences may be. Who outside of them current situation may be effect by their actions. We are so quick to call people cowards without first taking the time to understand and acknowledge their perspective.

And though there are some truth in the words, I think often times it is a really unfair assessment. we can say what we would do in situations but being in the heat of the moment is totally different.

We are not expected to be strong all the time. We are human and are allowed to fail or succumb to our trials. It is in these moments that we learn what is required for us to be strong. I personally learned this first hand and it is a lesson that I will never forget. I destroyed myself mentally for not being able to act, mind racing frantically with all the potential scenarios and outcomes. Being stricken by what to do and how to act, not necessarily refusing the call. I questioned my own faith and my ability to be a man. I compared myself to the those that I idolized in real life and fiction. Funny how you digest so many books and shows with the blueprint of being a hero and they make it seem so easy. But in reality, it is a lot harder and that humbled me.

And the next time I was faced with such a situation, my body acted without me thinking. I recognized that nothing could be changed without action. I realized that by not acting, I couldn’t complain. And I knew that I had the capacity to insert my will and make that change happen, willing to accept that whatever comes from it.

In another instance, I was able to display strength for speaking up for myself. Voicing my mind and opinion which is somewhat hard for me because I think so much about the outcome of my actions or words. I play out dozen of conversations in my head, trying to find the set course that it will take. This can be extremely exhausting, especially considering that you still have to have the actual conversation with the person after you’ve at it in your head.

I am definitely a work in progress, trying to figure out the best way to deal with things to be a better person for myself and those I care about. Trying each day and learning from my failures as well as my success.

In this journey, I’ve learned that…

Strength isn’t the absence of fear, sadness, or pain. It is being bold enough to take all those things in willingly, acknowledging the fears… allowing yourself to cry… and getting up afterwards to carry on.

Strength isn’t shying away from the truth or what your feelings really are. It is accepting them and expressing them openly and constructively.

Strength is the wisdom of knowing what you can change and what you can’t and doing what you can where you can to make a difference.

Strength is being able to sacrifice for others while still being able to pave the way for tomorrow.

Strength is loving. Having the fortitude to stand your ground in the face of change.

Strength is being someone’s else support even when you don’t have it in you to support yourself.

Before I continue ranting on about the topic, I am really interested to know how you define strength and what it means to you. What qualities does a person need to display strength and who in your life (in reality or fiction) do you look up to that embodies strength?

Let’s talk about in the comments. As always, thank you for stopping by and reading. You are amazing and I greatly appreciate it.

Until the next post…

I’ve been gone for quite sometime and this is the mark of my return to form. There will be a post in the coming days that should cover my absence for those who care to know what I have been up to.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Lynn says:

    Welcome back. There are a million different things that make people strong so trying to come up with a single definition is almost impossible. One thing that seems less common is the willingness to admit you were wrong. It takes strength to do that, but it appears all too easy to pass the blame to someone else.

    1. Thanks! I didn’t think of that at all! I have no problem doing that so I guess that wouldn’t have shown up on my radar. Nice addition!

  2. Yomu says:

    Oh hey this is perfect timing. Welcome back!

    Don’t think I can really add anything you and Lynn haven’t mentioned. I think it takes strength to maintain conviction in beliefs even when they go against the popular sentiment, and it also takes strength to be able to challenge your own beliefs in pursuit of the truth, again regardless of popular sentiment or what the majority thinks / pushes as the truth. Seems like a relevant definition for today’s political climate at least.

    1. Thanks, I’m glad to be back. I have severely missed writing like this. I’m curious to know why is it perfect though.

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