What makes us strong?

This is just a little something I had on my mind. It's been years since I've written anything and I've been itching to spew something out on paper (or screen) for a while now! Any feedback is appreciated, and if anyone has anything to add, wouldn't mind collaborating :) Thanks for reading!

What makes us strong?


Writing about a question like this is no easy job, and I don't even pretend to have a perfect answer. But as I've grown up, I feel like the things I've experienced have definitely given me some idea of what exactly it is that makes me consider myself a strong person. Good old empirical evidence, to which all the great philosophers over the years have appealed (not that I should ever claim to be one), can attest to the truth of some of my ideas. Though the most beautiful - and yet at the same time troubling - things about human nature is that no single thing is ever certain. We are all different in so many inexplicable ways to one another; something that we can't quite put our finger on makes us who we are, and separates us from everyone else. So maybe the best I can ever do is speak for myself, but I at least hope that others will be able to relate to this.

I've always thought that the strongest people in life were the ones who had endured the most suffering. Perhaps, on that basis it would be possible to make a strength calculus quantified by how much pain someone has felt throughout every second of their life. Does this sound crazy? I think so. Not because of the many impracticalities of such a device, but because we often tend to assume that strength requires suffering to manifest itself. It does, but it is not impossible for someone who has suffered very little to be stronger than someone who has suffered a great deal - in fact, I imagine that people who have suffered neither too much nor too little would be better equipped to deal with a tragedy than individuals on either side of the "suffering spectrum".

Maybe then, the strongest people are the ones who have suffered just the right amount. I don't believe this either though. Suffering itself isn't enough to show strength - people can be relatively weak but survive traumatic experiences. So, I guess this leads to a question which many of you will have expected me to address a lot earlier: What is it to be strong? My answer is this: Being strong just means that you do whatever it is you truly desire to do, without allowing any obstacles to hinder you. These may be in the form of other people, or in the form of your own personal inhibitions. To me, the strongest person is the one who can achieve their goals in the face of overwhelming opposition without ever losing hope and throwing in the towel. Just a little side note, if people have desires which are not so good, I would probably hesitate to label them as strong people - but that's a whole different can of worms; it would be a lot easier to assume that I just mean achieving good things.

Now for the mandatory anecdote section: I feel like I am a strong person because I have managed to overcome a lot of things in my life. Not just overcome them, but I have somehow managed to maintain a positive outlook on life, whilst being tempted time and time again to just give up and stop trying to make something of myself. Without going into too many details, I was born into a single-parent family (I live with my Mum, who has done a great job of looking after me); We are poor (relatively speaking, of course); and I live on a council estate (you can imagine the troubles which accompany living in a poor area.) I still live there today, but I go to Oxford University and I spend a lot of my time taking care of Mum and our animals, whilst also trying to do what I can to help other people (friends and neighbours) who need it. This may sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet - far from it, I consider myself strong, but there are many other people I admire greatly, who have accomplished far more than I could ever do.

My story is merely one of millions of tales of people overcoming trials and tribulations to go on to do good things. I have struggled, and I believe that part of the reason I am strong is because I have had to go through these problems. But there is more to it than that: No matter what has stood in my way, I've always tried to aspire to more than anyone else thought possible. Nobody believed I could get into a grammar school or get into Oxford, but I used the negativity as motivation to prove other people wrong, instead of get myself down. I believe anyone could do this. I know so many people who feel like they're never going to amount to anything, but are so bright - they could do amazing things if they just got over their own fear of failure. These people are strong, they have survived, but maybe they can be even stronger by doing more than just surviving a difficult life - maybe they can make something truly positive out of it.

I didn't make this post to give a definitive answer to what makes us strong, but I believe that no matter how easy or hard your life has been - you can find your own strength in taking a leap of faith every now and then, in doing whatever it is that truly makes you happy. If even one person takes away something from having read this, then I will be happy. Oh, and by the way, I can bench 85kg, just saying....

The End

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