Strength is relative: you are stronger than you know

We already know strength is relative: a 100kg squat for me is a different ball game to Klokov. What is strong for me is weak for him. Sure. But I recently realised strength is relative in a different way.

I was struggling with some difficult emotions recently, but I forced myself to go to a Strongman class at my local gym. I got there, started doing the first few exercises and I knew I couldn't go on. I told the coach I needed to leave (something I never thought I'd do), I cancelled the next class that I was also going to do right after, and I left, walking five minutes to where I'd left my bike, trying not to break down in front of anyone. I got to the place where my bike was, and in the quiet, away from the street and the people, I noticed something: I wasn't hungry. And then I cried. You see:

  • In this moment, strength meant not making these emotions about food, despite having a history of disordered eating.
  • In this moment, strength meant crying.
  • In this moment, strength meant cycling home, having a shower, getting clean, taking care of my body with gentle movements and mobility.
  • In this moment, strength was the knowledge that tomorrow I had the opportunity to come back and try again.

The old me would have seen quitting as a sign of weakness. It would have berated myself for giving up, not trying hard enough. I would have told myself I would never amount to anything if I keep quitting like this. Now I can see stopping where I did was actually an opportunity to show strength. Because strength is relative, not just from person to person, but from moment to moment.