I was mindlessly playing Madden 25 and listening to music when I heard a unique line come bursting through my headphones, “Nothing wrong with not being strong. Nothing says we have to beat what’s wrong.” There I was, a young 21 year old just over indulging in video games during holiday break at college and that line (and song and album) left me dumbfounded.
For a length of unknown time — probably my whole life — people had been explaining to me that I had to be mentally strong and if anything, pretend that I was not whatever I was. What was I? A bit anxious and depressive, yet working through it. What was I portraying? Nothing is wrong, don’t ask, and I am a normal human being. However, thanks to a man by the stage name of El-P, my mental strength was able to grow without forcing myself to have to be mentally strong.
It’s like this: if an individual is too short to dunk in basketball, why shape them into a player that would try and dunk? Of course, they will need to work with their own set of individual skills that they have to improve their game and make them a force to be reckoned with. That might not be the best analogy, but the mind kind of works in the same light. If you are not mentally strong (don’t worry I am not either) then do not force yourself to pretend to be for the sake of someone else’s words around you. There is no fun in pretending to be someone else, and there is no worthwhile value in that. It is more beneficial to learn how to work with your own mind, specifically.
Let’s say you have the gift (and curse) of having a rather anxious mind. You quickly jump to the worst case scenario and constrict yourself in social situations. You start feeling the collapse in your lungs whenever crowds of people are around, even if they are just passing. It’s okay to be overwhelmed if you have these issues, trying to force yourself to be strong might cause your mind to overreact and turn in on itself. Instead, work with it. If you need to step away for a bit and find personal solace, do it. If you feel the need to mindlessly scroll through social media just to calm the nerves? Sure, it’s an option.
It’s important to establish a safety net to catch yourself when you are let down or hampered by your will power not being strong enough. Maybe you can message an individual a wordy explanation as to what is happening in your head. You may be showcasing that you are not mentally strong and leaving yourself vulnerable, but if you have already accepted that than your friends will as well. They will work with you without judgement and you shouldn’t have to worry about what they think.
Figuring out how to portray your own mind might sound difficult, but in reality, forcing yourself to live your life as a character is rather tough as well. It’s cold and vitriolic and you will find yourself alienated from the true you, which is worse than having to accept the way your mind is, so it’s safer to collect your presence and share it with the world.
Last fall, I decided to stop this macho performance I had been putting on display and instead really center myself around my emotional out-pour and start accepting my mind for what it was. I was there, in the mental ditch, after pretending to be strong for so long. It’s like when you are on a long drive and people recommend you to pull over and find a rest area for a bit if you need to. There’s no need to put yourself in a more dangerous arena by attempting to drive when you are weak.
There was a third bit to that lyric from earlier that I saved because I thought it would help wrap my ideas into a nice bow to end this article. “Nothing manmade remains made long.” Think about it, the world around us is not as permanent as we think. Things rot, structure-wise, decaying over the years, so within this world it’s more important if you are out there finding your value and accepting yourself for what you are.
Make your mark on the world, and maybe a mentally strong mind will not be an issue anymore. I know my head well enough to have forgotten that and instead focus on pursuing what my heart and mind are passionate about.
Featured photo credit: greyerbaby via cdn.morguefile.com