I used to think that strength was something largely physical; the ability to push harder, throw further, or lift heavier. Strength was the voice that told me to carry on at the end of a run for one mile more. Just one mile. That would inevitably turn into two. Into four. Into eight. Strength whilst enduring difficult situations was the ability to build an invisible wall, brick by brick, to prevent the problems from leaking out and into anyone else's lives. When hope and faith were limited, and dreams and ambitions felt unreachable, I believed strength was what taught me to move on quickly. After all, I wasn't worthy of these dreams anyway, was I?
There wasn't a definitive day that my perspective switched but, if there had been, it wouldn't have been all that long aygo. Things don't happen overnight. My change in perspective was not like the flick of a switch; it was a series of events carved carefully into my story. A collection of people, lifelong friends, who each helped me to learn more about myself through meaningful relationships. Forever indebted by the strength they helped me find, but forever knowing that strength is built in two directions, but individual ways.
I learnt that strength is letting people close enough to help you when you're struggling, and supporting those around you when they need it too. It is allowing yourself to feel emotions that are difficult to feel, and accepting the truth that these are part of everyone's life in one way or another. Strength is found in trusting the path you are on, in not abandoning dreams at the first mound of adversity and through re-shaping your path with new factors in your life.
Shockingly enough, strength was never the voice that dragged me through the extra miles. Or the voice that told me I would be worthless if I didn't spend an extra hour in the gym. It was the voice that told me to stop midway through a run as I reach the top of a hill - stop and appreciate the view. It's a measure of how well we handle the challenges that life throws at us. It's smiling through the chaos, knowing that it's taking you on the journey that you are meant to be on.
Strength never was unspeakable pain, isolation and loneliness. It is found with time and answered prayers; the opportunity to rebuild something that never really had been destroyed