“A strong person is not the one who doesn’t cry. A strong person is the one who cries and sheds tears for a moment and then gets up and fights again.” ~ Anonymous
And being this strong person is never easy.
It’s not that if you’re strong, you have everything under control and can handle anything without help. People often think that this so-called strong person doesn’t really need anything.
It’s almost like saying, what do you gift someone who has everything? Well, you have nothing much to offer, so you don’t offer anything.
It’s the same story with strong people. No one can really offer them any support because they think they have it all figured out. In fact, this strong person is usually the go-to person for everyone else.
These so-called strong people do have everything figured out; they always have the right kind of answers, advice, and so on. They know how to get you out of any kind of jam. They will be the ones to lift you up on a heavy day, will put that lost smile back on your face, and will do all this with utmost grace.
And it often leaves you wondering, “How do they do it?”
Let me tell you, they don’t do it with ease. Most strong people became strong not because they wanted to but because they had no choice.
Life wasn’t easy for them. Maybe they didn’t have anyone that they could turn to, so they had to turn to themselves, and they learnt to overcome their own challenges with great difficulty.
“I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past.” ~ Atticus
They had to fight just so that they could protect themselves. They learnt to be there for themselves because there was no one around for them.
They learnt to figure out various solutions to all the difficulties that life kept throwing at them, and that’s how they trained themselves to find all the answers. Maybe no one was around to help them to figure it all out.
And they had to do all of this quietly. They had to put on a mask that said, “I’m happy, brave, and have it all under control” just so that they could hide the fact that they actually felt completely out of control, helpless, lost, and confused.
“Sometimes the strongest amongst us are the ones who cry behind closed doors and fight battles no one knows about.” ~ Anonymous
They knew that perhaps no one would be able to truly feel what they were going through, so they had to drop the expectation as well—not because they wanted to but because they had to. Their own expectations would have burdened them so they had to let them go.
Being an emotionally strong person doesn’t come with any frills and bows. It comes with struggles and challenges that no one outside of them understands.
Someone who’s emotionally strong may have had to go through a lot of hardships and had no option but to fight just so they could survive. It’s not that they have it under control. Beneath the surface they are struggling to manage, accept, come to terms with so much that’s happening within and outside of them. They are screaming in pain but neither can they show it nor would anyone understand.
Being the go-to person for everyone comes with its own share of challenges and the biggest one being that when the strongest person in the room needs someone to fall back on, usually there is no one.
It’s not they they don’t know how to be vulnerable or are not vulnerable; they just don’t know if there is enough space for them to be so. Hence, they keep it all in and keep going on.
It’s not that their self-esteem and confidence are at their peak all the time. Underneath the surface, they are struggling with massive self-doubt and are just finding ways to get by.
They fall, break, hurt, cry, and then pick themselves up again. They just keep going because that’s all they know, and slowing down is far more dangerous than going on. They know that if they slow down, their own demons will catch up and tear them apart. So they keep going on.
And no one sees this. If they can’t see it, how will they understand?
Well, if they have the capability to take care of themselves and others, if they can figure everything out by themselves, do they even need anything?
Of course. At the end of the day, even they are human beings, aren’t they?
They want to be seen, heard, and validated for who they are, and perhaps presenting that strong front was their way of getting their needs met—and then it just became a big part of who they are.
The biggest gift that you can give to an emotionally strong person is the space to be vulnerable without judging them or thinking that something is wrong with them.
You can be there for them and offer the gift of your presence and empathy so that you can let them know that you know they’ve been strong for too long and it’s okay for them to break a little, cry a little, vent a little.
You can offer the gift of your listening and can listen without attempting to fix them.
You can give them your love.
You can appreciate them and value their efforts.
At times, you could try and do some things for them to ease their load. It would mean the world to them.
And most importantly, tell them you’re there for them so that it’s easier for them to reach out to you if they ever need to because maybe they’ve forgotten what it’s like to ask for help.
Remember, they know how to navigate the world. They built themselves up like that. It’s just that they had to do it alone.
They know how it feels to not have someone around to reach out to. Hence, they made sure they were always available if someone needed them—even if it came at their own cost.
So they may not need worldly advise, solutions, fixing, and so on, because not only do they know that, but they’ve grown up doing it for themselves and others.
All they need is someone to be there for them, hold their hand, hug them, and tell them that they are seen, heard, and validated, and that it’s okay for them to be vulnerable because emotionally strong or not, they too are human and they hurt too.
“Even the strongest people need to break down once in a while.” ~ Anonymous
So what if they can tend to their hurts on their own?
It still hurts and they just need someone to understand that.
“Your presence is the most precious gift you can give to another human being.” ~ Marshall B. Rosenberg