Have you heard the phrase “fake it ’til you make it”? I am a sham. I do not have everything in my life together. Am I strong? Sure, but do you know the secret to my strength? I am strong, because I am weak. I am strong, because I am vulnerable. I am strong, because I keep going, foot in front of foot, step by step. Life is not any easier for me and quite honestly, I have made several wrong turns.
I am a woman and mother who was unprepared to lose her husband when she was 41. Unprepared emotionally, unprepared financially, unprepared personally, just unprepared. This has been a struggle, but you know what, that is ok. Life is not, nor never will it be, a Facebook or Instagram profile page.
I don’t always feel confident, in fact, many days I am stressed out and many nights I lose sleep. I spend more time than I would like trying to figure out how to hold it all together. But do you know what I learned? Blame gets you nowhere. Worrying gets you nowhere. Blame focuses on the past that cannot be changed, and worry focuses on a future that has yet to happen. All you really have for certain is right now. You can learn from the past, and you can have faith in the future. And the right now, well, just do the right thing. Take one small step in the right direction, and then another, and then another.
People will always be haters, people will criticize and tell you what you are doing wrong in their eyes, know that these thoughts and opinions are more about them than you. People apply their own experiences to your life and would rather focus outward on you than inward on themselves. Criticism is not helpful. What is helpful is a friend or family member that lets you know that they will support you in what ever you choose to do next. They may not agree with a choice you are making, or a chance you are taking, but they will be there for you and the outcome, regardless. They will congratulate you on your successes, and cry with you when things don’t turn out so well.
The right thing for me is to offer the same respect. Be there for my friends and family. Don’t criticize, don’t tell them what they should and shouldn’t be doing, but be there. Help them up if they fall, and toast them if they succeed. You do not have to agree with someone to support them, and your support should not come with strings.
It is not selfish to focus on what is best for you. It is healthy, it is strong. The best way I know to be strong is to support others by supporting others, but not at the expense of yourself. Being selfless does not mean giving to others, but supporting others, no strings attached. It means doing the next right thing.
Life is messy, it is not a dream, or tied up with pretty ribbons and bows. And strength mirrors life. Strength is not Superman or Wonder Woman, strength is messy, it is vulnerable, it is hitting rock-bottom and still moving forward. It is losing your husband and starting over. Strength means you keep moving forward.