These days, there seems to be such a need to be “strong” in one way or another. Having spent the last 19 years in the Army, this is something that is largely beaten into all of our heads. However, I’ve done a pretty good job with not allowing it to change the person I am.
When it comes to social media, I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not out to judge anyone. But Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (even MySpace thousands and thousands of years ago) have allowed some people to create personas that are different than who they really are. Where I’ve noticed this most is again, in the level of how “strong” they are, while often addressing the weaknesses of others.
I read something a few days ago and I can’t remember where I saw it, but it basically encouraged people to allow for those moments of what society considers as “weakness.” It really resonated with me.
The reason for this is because I’ve never understood this deep desire to show others how “strong” we are or to hide any perceived weaknesses. I’m a person who is mature enough to understand that we ALL have strengths AND weaknesses. So I don’t understand why this is so tough for others to get, or who became the “expert” on what constitutes as “strong” or “weak.”
Don’t get me wrong; I get why many like to hide any weaknesses they may have. It’s largely because these are the areas in which people make fun of. This is what they attack during arguments. This is what bullies go after when they want to make you feel bad. Someone decided a long time ago that a good way to prove “strength” is to expose the weaknesses of other people. The more strength you show, the less chance people have of seeing your weaknesses. Therefore, the less they can attack in you.
But again…why are some things considered as “weak”?
I honestly believe the reason is because it’s something we’ve learned, what we’ve taught ourselves or what someone else has taught us. I don’t feel there is any reason or universal criteria, or anything anyone can come up with themselves.
Let me talk about myself for a minute. One flaw I have (among the many) is that I am at times, quite self-conscious about my looks. I’m okay with admitting this; I’m writing this is a blog post accessible to anyone in the world, so obviously I must be.
Why do I feel like this still sometimes at age 37? Well, when I was a very young child, I don’t remember being called “cute” very often, which wouldn’t have mattered before the “cute” boys came along.
That’s right. I did what most of us do and the main reason I feel that so many are afraid to show anything less than strength; I compared myself to others.
When I saw how often other boys were referred to as “cute” or how the same boy was viewed this way MANY times by MANY girls, the first thing I asked myself was why the same wasn’t being said to me. Well, the answer was simple; because many simply did not think I was very cute. Some did, but again, my focus was on the more popular boys and those who received a ton of attention because of their looks.
The more I compared, the worst I honestly felt. It became tougher and tougher to look in the mirror every day. Couple that with the fact that yes, I was called “ugly” before and that contributed to my feelings about my looks.
Now, I am obviously not quite at that point now. I’ve grown from that and realized a long time ago that there is more to me or ANY person than looks, even though I’ve been recently said to resemble or to even be more attractive than Denzel Washington. Extremely flattering, but don’t even ask me to explain that one. That is definitely NOT one I’m saying about myself.
But self-consciousness is another one of those things that people don’t like to admit because it makes them look or sound “weak.” Why? What is it about a person who is very modest about how they look that makes it a bad or “weak” thing? I’ve even heard people make fun of others for being self-conscious.
What exactly is the “funny” part about it?
I can give many more examples, but just one more. Let’s talk about crying.
I don’t think I have to explain this one too much. Males are not supposed to cry.
Here’s my question. What makes it okay for females to cry, but not males? Why do we expect more women to cry than men? Oh, right…a man is not really a man if he cries.
Who decided this? Who exactly is the expert on what makes someone a man? And who voted to decide that this was again, the universal criteria?
Many of us learned not to cry from our parents or other adults. But again, what exactly is it about crying that makes a person “weak”? Crying is one of the most natural emotions we can experience. Yet, an entire gender is expected to NOT do this. And yes, I’ve heard that this is expected of some women also.
Again, I can give many more examples. But enough of them. The point of this blog post is to tell you one simple thing:
That IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE STRONG ALL THE TIME.
Our bodies were made to process MANY different emotions. That means good AND bad. Our bodies don’t need permission to process these emotions. Crying and sadness in any other way is not only natural, but a very necessary aspect of our lives. We cannot experience joy to its fullest without experiencing this sadness from time to time. Also, it is very healthy.
Without trying so hard to be “macho,” think about any time you cried. How did your body feel shortly before you began crying? What about how your body felt afterward?
While crying doesn’t necessarily fix your problem right away, there is a feeling of relief many of us feel after we do so. Again, the issue is still there, but your body doesn’t feel nearly the way it did prior to the crying.
This is normal. This is what is SUPPOSED to happen. This isn’t something you should be trying to avoid.
Sweating is the way the body cools itself. Your body doesn’t cool off in warm to hot temperatures unless you sweat. So why is it something some folks frown upon? When we are hot, do we NOT want to be cooled of?
The bottom line is that again, we were meant to experience ALL emotions and you should never let ANYONE tell you otherwise. Most people, when asked why something makes a person “weak,” 99% of the time, as I stated above, they will give you some sort of comparison. It never fails. Seriously…find that person who conveys that they are the strongest person ever and if you ask them about weakness, you will not be five minutes into the conversation until the first comparison comes along. I guarantee it.
The truth is that like much of society’s “rules,” this is just something someone made up and to avoid looking “bad” to others, many just go with. But it is not healthy to pretend you have no weaknesses. Just because a person does not speak about theirs doesn’t mean they don’t have any.
And don’t be too wrapped in that person who always boasts about how “weak” everyone else is. Chances are, they’re even “weaker” (by society’s standards) than those they are putting down. Most folks like this have to sort of “double down” on displaying their “strength” just so that “weakness” they are trying so hard to cover up is not exposed.
To me, claiming to be SO strong all the time is not that impressive. You putting up a front. Anyone can pretend to be someone else. At this point in my life, that means nothing.
However, it’s that person who can be brave and bold enough to speak about his or her own flaws. Those who are not afraid to admit them specifically. I’m talking about those people who can be mature enough to speak more about their own flaws than the flaws of other people.
I’m just a single blogger with an opinion, but I’m here to encourage those of you reading that it is okay to have flaws and no, it does NOT make you “weaker” than anyone else in any way to speak about them or for others to know.
Saying that you have flaws is the same as saying you have two eyes, a nose and a mouth. EVERYONE has them. Would you run around, covering one eye with tape covering your mouth and carrying a sign saying, “ANYONE WHO DOESN’T LOOK LIKE I DO IS WEAK”? That sounds utterly ridiculous. But that’s exactly what those who try to hide their flaws, as they put others down for having them, are doing.
Many times, we learn the best through moments of perceived weakness. When you were in school and you failed a test, what did that teach you? That you didn’t know whatever subject as much as you thought you did. So that led you to (hopefully) study more the next time. You likely would not have known this as well otherwise.
As I am a writer, there is no shortage of stories of J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and Dr. Seuss concerning the number of times their first stories were rejected before they were eventually accepted. Just how “weak” are those people viewed to be now?
Imagine if, in an effort hide these “moments of weakness” they decided to quit after the first time. We would have no Pet Cemetery, Harry Potter, or “I Do Not Like Them, Sam I Am.”
MANY other stories like these exist. In fact, very seldom do you hear a success story about someone who had NEVER experienced a moment of failure or even of “weakness.”
That is the main reason I will always have more respect for that person who is okay with having those moments of weakness than those who appear to be strong constantly and I mean, 24 hours a day. That’s just not reasonable. In my book, the person who isn’t afraid of their flaws is more willing to work on embrace them.
However, that “all the damn time strong” person likely feels they’re about as good as they will ever need to be. I’m not sure if there are too many successful people out there who have been like this for their entire lives. They’ll spend way too much time hiding or disguising themselves that they will always be hindered in some way.
Don’t let these folks hinder you. If you feel a moment of weakness coming, LET IT COME. You will learn way more than if you pretended it wasn’t there.