"And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong."
- Primo Levi
When I got back from Guatemala, I looked in the mirror and flexed by arms. I felt stronger. I had just spent a week shoveling and pick axeing. I felt like I could easily knock down the next guy who called me a name or did me wrong. I had never felt like this before. Now and then, I'll feel like I could take on the whole world - I feel 12 feet tall and like no one can ruin my cheerfulness. But I'd never really felt strong.
It was more than the hard labour I'd done while in Guatemala. The strength was a deeper feeling than having slightly more muscular arms. It was a feeling like I could take on anyone and win because I have strength deeper than muscle. Having strength is a great feeling. When I look at my role models - especially the women who I look up to - I realise that I admire many of them because they do posess great strength, both physically and emotionally.
Source: The Obama Diary
I look up to and respect Michelle Obama quite possibly more than any modern woman. She embodies strength. I mean yeah, she has the most amazing arms in the world and looks like she could probably hold her own pretty easy. But that's really just a symbol of her strength. She stands by her husband and raises her daughters. She picked a cause - childhood obesity - and devotes herself to it. When you listen to her speak, she's cool and collected. You can hear the passion in her voice. You can hear how much she respects her husband, how much she wants to fight for a better future, and how concerned she is about the youth health problems in the US. It's admirable how poised she is. But she's still strong. She's not wimpy and she is absolutely willing to fight for what she believes in, no matter what. I find extreme respect for women who stand up for what they believe in, even if the cause is less than fashionable and even if it has stigma attached. That takes real strength to do.
There is nothing wrong with admiring Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Clara Bow or whoever it is that many young women admire. I admire them as well - sometimes we relate to the way that they hurt and to the hardships they carried. Monroe spoke some beautiful words of encouragement and strength. But it's a whole new type of respect when women get out there and stand up for more than themselves. Standing up for a minority or an undesirable cause outside of the self - that takes a type of strength that is tremendous and extremely admirable.
Source: Spirit Quotes
I think a lot of my newfound strength was in the feeling of being in Guatemala and being a small part of the huge change that they're making down there. It was empowering - it made me realise that there's so much more. I've had a lot of my own personal pain and tryings to deal with over the years, but that all washed away when I got to San Lucas Toliman and was able to do something to help a larger population. For the whole trip, I focused myself on the true beauty of the community and the strength of the people in San Lucas. I rarely thought about my own past and my own scars. I was healing just by being down in Guatemala and making a difference for someone other than myself. That feeling made me feel strong. This was strength in a form that I couldn't grasp simply by being myself, by loving, by listening or living. This was a type of strength that could only be found in helping out someone else - the most vulnerable people - instead on focusing on yourself.