I’ve never really seen strength as just the typical Wikipedia definition of having the ability to carry more weight. Since starting high school and CrossFit the significance of the word quickly changed in my life. The new people and friends I’ve met have shown me that strength can develop out of the ability to overcome challenges, insecurities and new situations. However, over the last few months I forgot what my own definition of strength was. I’m sure a lot of other people have forgotten theirs as well, especially at times when they feel weak or lack control. Maybe it’s at the end of a day when we decide not to go to the gym, stick up for ourselves, or conquer a minuscule fear. Maybe we forget it after a meal of pasta and garlic bread (the paleo crossfitter’s ultimate taboo), or a workout filled with skipped reps. It’s possible we lose the meaning of strength when we remind ourselves about all of the things we have messed up, are doing wrong, and will make the mistake of doing in the future. We lose sight of it when we tell ourselves that strength is something which can only be defined by our actions. The meaning begins to fade when we say that strength is only measured in the ability to stick to our goals. We begin to place the level of our strength in the choice of our words and the weight of our barbells, showing that rather than valuing strength itself, we choose to value the proof we have of it.
By associating “failure” with the lack of strength, we neglect the real meaning of the word. We are not weak when we decide to take a rest day. We are not weak when we decide to eat that sugary cheat meal. We are not weak when we fear conveying our true emotions to someone. We are not weak when we fail a lift. We are not weak when we don’t speak up for ourselves. We are not weak when we are injured. We are not weak when we make mistakes. These are not the indicators of our weakness, just as the opposites are not always indicators of our strength.
Weakness is shown in the ignorance, not the absence, of strength. Weakness is on purpose. It is the ability to destroy all of our potential strength by defining ourselves with worry and the fear of failure. It is magnifying the mistakes we have made and keeping them in a jar labeled “important”, while swatting away at the power we have to change them. Strength on the other hand does not gain its credibility by being demonstrated to others, but rather by an internal acceptance of the power we have to learn from mistakes and defeat insecurities. It is not an hourly or daily trait; strength is something which becomes rooted within us. We need to value being strong in more than a physical, verbal or business sense, for more than a couple hours out of the day. Real strength is not shown, it is felt.
Perhaps I’m even writing this to you to prove my own strength. It’s possible that I can’t accept my own definition of the word because sometimes I find myself labeling strength only at face value. Maybe everything you just read makes no sense. Maybe I’m just a seventeen year old who really misses CrossFit and is trying to find a way to excuse the lack of strength I’ve been exhibiting in myself the past few months. Either way, so long as I know that I choose to embrace strength it doesn’t matter for other people to see it, whether I’m lifting a barbell or writing to CFN. While our own strength may be silent to others, it must become a deafening roar and reminder in ourselves that weakness is a decision, not the inevitable.
– Emma Calhoun