Written by: Khadeja


As children, we learn words through visual association. As adults, we turn to the dictionary or its cousin Google. But often the formal definition of a word only scratches the surface and doesn’t encompass a word’s full depth. Take, for example, the word ‘strong.’ I remember learning this word through images of a flexed muscle or someone lifting weights. One of the first definitions listed in the Oxford dictionary:

“Having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks.”

But isn’t strength so much more than an image of Popeye after downing a tin of spinach? While physical strength is certainly something to be proud of, what about the strength of going through a hardship? What about the strength of biting your tongue and letting something go? To be honest, I would rather struggle to lift a 10 lb dumbbell than to bite my tongue and ‘lose’ a verbal standoff. What about the strength it takes to get off your high horse and own up to your own mistakes? What about the excruciating amount of strength it takes to objectively deal with our faults and shortcomings? We forget how much emotional strength it takes to be the bigger person and take the high road. And although we know the merits of being that person, our vision is clouded by society’s idea of strength vs. weakness.

I have learned that sometimes you need to sit back and re-evaluate your vocabulary; you need to contemplate the true and pure meaning of words that align with your beliefs instead of just complying to the ideas that were basically forced on you by the environment you live/work/play in. I believe that strength is forging your own path based on what you believe to be true and just. I believe that strength has deeper meaning that we must discover as we grow.

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