No? Hmmm… Oh! You mean strong like that Planet Fitness commercial: “I lift things up and put them down.” I mean… I personally don’t care about lifting objects… I just want a man to be able to pick ME up for once!
So, no – I’m not particularly interested. I don’t want to be big and bulky. And I don’t really care if I can hoist 25 pounds and stand for long periods of time. (I don’t apply for those jobs!)
I want to be skinny! Thin! Petite! Fragile! Delicate! The smaller, the better! Strong is for boys, pretty is for girls… right?
That was my mentality a few years ago. But, can you really blame me? Society has us all a little messed up about so many things, including what it means to be strong.
Today, the concept of strong has a very different meaning for me. And I have a few awesome people to thank for that – including (of all people) my boss’ handyman.
The Handyman Handed Me The Ultimate Compliment
I love it when (let’s call him Bob) comes over to putter, fix, paint, tighten, unclog, etc. You name it – he does it! Bob is this compact, 5’4” ball of positive energy… and his smile is contagious. If I could bottle his pep and drink it for breakfast, believe me….
Well, a few weeks ago, after Bob had made his jolly entrance one morning, it was time for us to move some furniture together. As soon as we started lifting, pushing, and rearranging, he began commenting on how strong I was, and how lucky he was to have me as his helper for the day.
He even commented, in front of my employer, that if I were on the market – he’d hire me on the spot.
For the rest of that day, I felt myself walking taller, standing straighter, and working a just a little harder. I felt empowered. A few small words from someone I barley knew made a huge dent in my negative thinking.
This has got to be infuriating to read for those who have been trying to convince me of ALL of my “strengths” my entire life. (But this is one of those perfect examples that just may encourage us all to open our mouths when we have a nice thought about someone else.)
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FINALLY, I realize how cool it is to be noticed for something I wasn’t born with, for something that I’m actively working on improving, and best of all – for something that didn’t have a lick to do with how I look.
What is Strong?
First of all – you do not have to “bulk up” in order to be strong. Just like beauty, strengths come in all different forms. I know someone who can throw a baseball so hard it will burn a hole through your glove, but that same person can’t hold plank for 15 seconds. It’s all relative, it’s all important, it’s all awesome.
Strength helps you take care of yourself and those around you. It may help you play a sport, hold a yoga pose, help a friend change a flat, or allow you to carry ALL the grocery bags in one trip. (Damn, that feels like good, doesn’t it??)
Don’t limit yourself to whatever preconceived notion of strength that you’ve been holding onto.
Strong (in any form) is beautiful.
Giving Back To My Body
I’ve been working on repaying my body for all of the kindnesses that it paid me during my bingeing days. This body stretched and stretched… and the truth is that it could have cracked into a million pieces at any moment, but it stuck it out with me and for me.
My body is a beauty and it’s a beast.
Now, it’s my turn to show it kindness, self-care, and some pretty impressive muscles.
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So, I’ve been focusing on creating a powerful, healthy body that I can be proud of… regardless of what society says I “should” look like.
The only thing I “should” do is exactly what I want. And I personally want to be…
…Strong like the kick-ass mom holding her 2-year-old in one arm while switching a load of laundry with the other.
…Strong like the motivated woman who jogged her first 5K at 60-years-old.
…Strong like the self-sufficient college graduate who hauled her entire life, in tiny boxes, down three flights to the moving van she rented (using her own credit!).
…Strong like the fearless little girl playing football with the boys – and giving them a run for their money.
Keep in mind this cute little gem that’s been floating around the Internet:
“I’m a female. Fe = Iron, Male = Man. Therefore I am Iron Man.”
Until next time,
Did this post resonate with you? What makes YOU feel strong? Please feel safe and welcomed to share your comments below.
P.S. If you know the author of the “iron man” quote, please let me know so I can give credit to him/her!