Strength is the ability to endure, to push through and stand firm when faced with adversity. It does not mean that you don’t struggle, get tired, feel mentally and emotionally drained or cry while doing it. Strength is making the decision that needs to be made, not because it’s easy, but because it needs to be made.
We assume that a “strong” person doesn’t need any help — That they have it all together and nothing fazes them. And because they are strong, it may appear this way. But beneath smiles and brave faces can often be immense pain. People can be crying out for comfort and encouragement internally, but not know how to verbalize those feelings.
The strong friend is perceived as such for a reason. Perhaps they’ve stood tall in the face of situations that may have destroyed many others. Maybe they’ve picked themselves up from the ground and dusted themselves off, only to fall again, and pick themselves up once more. Other times it’s because they’ve made tough choices without flinching, or carried weight and responsibility that others are not sure they would have been able to bear. They probably don’t complain much about their trials, and have likely done it all without assistance.
Yet, even that can be exhausting. Feeling as though you have to be strong all the time consumes an incredible amount of energy. There is never a place to rest, or lay your burdens down.
To be there for the strong friend is not to question their strength. It is acknowledging that everyone, including them, needs to know that someone cares. Everyone needs to feel appreciated and loved. Even the strongest among us, no matter what has previously been endured, will encounter that one circumstance that feels as though it will break us clean in two. Our resolve will be tested.
In those moments, we will need someone. When our spirit is broken and engulfed in despair, there is no simple resolution of “dusting ourselves off.” We will need someone to help keep us going when we’d rather give up. At the very least, having support will contribute to the healing process.
Sometimes the person who is there for everyone needs someone to be there for them. Things are not always as they seem. Because the strong friend doesn’t call you in tears doesn’t mean they haven’t been shed. And if they DO call you in tears, go to them quickly. The strong friend may be uncomfortable asking for help. So, don’t make them.
When a person is used to being acknowledged for their strength and knows that everyone expects them to handle things, it can be difficult to show a crack in the armor, be vulnerable and say, “Hey, I need you.” When someone is used to facing challenges on their own, it becomes their normal. Strength can be and often is developed out of necessity. When you’ve never had help it’s not easy to accept, let alone request.
But, check on your strong friend anyway. Be there anyway. Don’t allow them to face difficulties alone simply because you believe they are resilient enough to do so.
Originally published at medium.com