Being strong means sorting out the things you want in your life. They are not things you were told to want, not things that seem cool because a celebrity did them, not cribbed off of a bucket list you read on 43 Things. These are things you have a natural attraction to, they are yours to seek and find and learn from. Being strong means pursuing things that don’t make sense, because you know you’re supposed to.
Being strong means living with a hell of a lot of questions. It’s much harder to live with doubt than faith. This isn’t to say that agnostics are stronger than theists, just that you have to hold the two things together. You can’t quote the Bible at the things that scare you until they go away, you can’t drink them away, you can’t eat them away and you definitely can’t sleep your way through them. You can’t say everything happens for a reason, you embrace the awesome suckiness of reality. You have to live in the uncomfortable halfway world of testing out things you believe in, but not blinding yourself to their faults.
Being strong means doing things that are uncomfortable. Like apologizing to people. It means you don’t twist the knife when you get in a fight because you don’t need to come up off the other person. You don’t even need to tell yourself you’re “taking the high road, unlike the other person.” Everyone you meet is fighting a battle too, you’ll help as much as you can.
Being strong means avoiding relationships, drugs and alcohol when you use them just to avoid reality.
I guess most of all it means doing things that are hard: being vulnerable and non-ironic, being open to failure and doing a whole lot of things that haven’t been culturally defined as “strong” because the ones that are are an image. There’s nothing strong about hiding behind an image and checking yourself out of life. There’s only strength in effort.