What Does it Mean to Be Strong?

by Next TwentyEight (www.flickr.com)

by Next TwentyEight (www.flickr.com)

The second part of my new tagline is Be Strong. What does it mean to BE STRONG? To my four-year-old, it probably means someone who is able to lift really heavy stuff. That might even be what my stepson (14) would think, too. But this is something we say to people who are going through turmoil and tough life events:

“You are so strong.”

“Use your inner strength.”

“Be strong.”

What does this look like? If a young mother is grieving her husband who died in a car accident, does this mean she doesn’t cry? Does this mean she doesn’t seek help from family or even professional help in the form of counseling? Not in my opinion. I think being strong in this case means she acknowledges her emotions while also helping her children acknowledge them and reaches out for help when she needs it. What do you think? How does society view strength?

I think sometimes we expect people of all ages–young and old–to deal with what life hands them because that’s what they have to do. But we expect it to happen in a certain way, and anyone who has ever been through a tough episode can tell you that being strong does not have one way it looks or one definition.

  • What does strong look like when someone loses his job?
  • What does strong look like when a best friend commits suicide?
  • What does strong look like when someone you love is trying to force you to do something you don’t want to?

That’s what I’m wondering today. And instead of sharing my opinion, I’d love to hear from you first. What do you think “strong” looks like? What do you mean when you tell someone to be strong?

Margo Dill (427x640)Margo L. Dill is a children’s and young adult author in St. Louis, MO. Find out more about her and her books at http://margodill.com.


  • Those are hard questions. When I think of someone as being strong, it normally has to do with what choices and actions they take in the face of adversity. So, for example, one of my best friends is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed five years ago, in her early 20s, a month before she was supposed to graduate from UofI. I think she was strong because she finished school while juggling everything that came with her diagnosis. Today, every time she laughs, is an example of strength. To live through what she has gone through and still be able to smile and find joy is Super Woman strong.

    • Geeky Lady:
      Great example. Some people have shared great examples of women’s strength on Facebook, too. And I’m starting to draw a conclusion. That part of being strong is not quitting–getting through, like your friend did here. The human spirit is unbelievable. I haven’t seen the movie UNBROKEN,and it is about a man, but I hear that is another example of how strong a person can be and “Make it through.” This discussion here and on Facebook is giving me an idea. OH NO! AN IDEA. . .;)

  • Strong looks like…honest introspection. So many of my friends and family members are going through really difficult situations. 2014 was a TOUGH year for the people that I love. The people in my life who were able to overcome obstacles in the best way possible were those that were able to look at their situation with honesty. They stared their demons right in the face, acknowledged their inner character flaws, admitted that “X situation” was indeed going on, and then they made a plan of action. If you’re willing to be honest with yourself about what is actually happening, deep down, you’re battle is halfway over.

    • This is a great point, Camille. I like that HONEST INTROSPECTION. It is almost the hardest to be honest with ourselves.

  • […] couple weeks ago, we had a discussion on the Lit Ladies blog and on Facebook about what makes people strong. A lot of smart people had a […]

So, what do you think?