Life gives us moments. Ones that can be so frustrating. Ones that make us cry. Ones that scare us.
And, inevitably, someone will tell us in those moments that whatever happened will “make you stronger.” I’ve heard it more times than I can count, from more people than I ever thought I would – some who have known me forever, and some less.
The first time I heard the phrase, I nodded. Yep, I know, I said with my nod. The second time, same. Nod, agree. Third time, I began to doubt it. And the next few times after that, I questioned it.
Stronger? This bullshit is making me stronger?
I didn’t see it. And I didn’t feel it. Until the time I needed to. The time I had to draw on the experiences I’d already had, and survived, to understand in this new moment that I was damn sure strong enough to navigate this latest disruption.
Does this make sense? I know sometimes I might be slow on life’s lessons, but I feel like I might not be alone on this one. On understanding that the “this will make you stronger” sentiment is meant for later. Like, you won’t instantly sprout a new strength while moving through the experience that has tripped you up.
It’ll come. Later. With reflection. And time. And growth. If you let yourself do those things. Wait, not let – encourage yourself to do those things.
I just got to feel one of those moments loud and clear. And it was good. So so good. Because my life experience allowed me to absolutely nail the moment.
My strengths have arrived in so many ways, from coping to navigating to positioning to anticipating. I’ve developed a spidey sense, one that rings an internal bell as the landscape starts to get slippery from one tormenter in particular, and now I’ve shown myself that I know exactly how to manage one of the more potentially stressful aspects of my life. Like a boss.
That’s why it feels so good. That’s the “it’ll make you stronger” moment. Learning from the mental and emotional data you’ve compiled over time, learning from the disappointments and stress and frenzied problem-solving.
Compiling the knowledge. And then using it to control your environment without skipping a beat.
I work out. I should know that gaining strength is a gradual process. A sweaty one. A sometimes painful one.
But when you stay at it, you get these moments where muscles you didn’t even know you had suddenly appear. A ridge across your shin or that taper that drips down from your shoulder (#goals).
They flex without trying. Mental muscle is the same. The pain and sweat and time add up. And when you need the work you’ve put in, you can flex without effort.
Because, you made yourself stronger.