3 min read

Being Stronger Than You Want to Be

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When I was a kid, people would tell me things like, "you're stronger than you think you are." This might have been true; in practice, though, I'd try to lift something up that's (metaphorically) too heavy, and I wouldn't be able to pick it up.

What they should have told me is that I was stronger than I wanted to be. In my life, when I've had to be strong, it's because I felt like I didn't have a real choice. It's be strong, or be in a place you don't want to be.

I never actually wanted to have to be strong, though. When I ran big companies, I didn't want to be the person that centered everyone else. I just did it, because that's what was necessary in the organizations I built. When I'm in the middle of a workout with a partner, I don't want to keep going; I do it because they're putting in the effort, and I don't want to let them down.

I don't seek out being strong. I think that the stoics and Ayn Rand were completely full of crap: I'm never strong because I push away my emotions and I'm objective. I'm strongest when I acknowledge that my emotions are there and harness them to do something.

This doesn't mean I want to be strong, though. I want other people to be strong, so I don't have to be. I'd much rather spend my time doing things that don't require inner strength, because having inner strength and outer strength is debilitating.

I'm familiar with the cycle now: I make myself as strong as I can and, shortly after, I want to give up. Then, I don't give up, and that somehow gives me more ability to carry on... provided I'm not on a quixotic quest. If I'm on one of those, my strength gives out, it all falls apart, and none of it mattered anyway.

I know it's not quixotic when other people care if I succeed, and so I get strength from them as well, until the need for being strong passes and I can collapse for a bit.

The ridiculous thing is that, the entire time I'm being strong, all I want to do is quit. All I want is some ice cream, and me time.

There is no world where I continually get stronger and better able to handle whatever's thrown at me. Like most people, I want to walk away when crap happens. I don't want to dig in and figure it out... at least, I don't want to often.

atlas gets more weight
Atlas Shrugged is as complete a life philosophy as this doodle

The difference in my life has been that I learned how to create artificial strength through using systems: some of this is leaning on other people. Other parts are using tools so that I'm not overwhelmed with everything at once. And, yeah, there's enough experience in there that tells me what's going to happen next, how much it's going to suck, and that I can get through it even if I won't like it.

I'll like what the other side of needing to be strong looks like.

That's it for today. Thanks for reading!

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