We are not born with our strengths. They are not given to us wrapped up as a gift. Our strengths grow from experiences and knowledge and sometimes learning from others. Reaching my 40’s I finally feel I have the strength to tackle most day to day issues, family life and to deal with others.
We try to teach our kids what we were taught and any new lessons that come with the changes in current lifestyles.
In my teens and twenties I would have a knot in my stomach if I had to speak to a stranger on the phone. In my first job at the age of 20 I had a boss who bullied me and instead of standing up for myself because I had been taught to respect my elders, I took the daily abuse. This would consist of the cold shoulder most days, verbal abuse, belittling and even throwing of stationery. It was not a open plan office as most are these days and therefore it went unnoticed. The reasons for this bullying I realise now were not personal, but were in actual fact a result of what was going on in her personal life. I hid from the shame, hated every day arriving at work but eventually I applied for a department transfer. The change of job was so refreshing, but I look back and I feel sad that my first experience of working life was so tough. It was a hard lesson to learn, but one I have grown in strength from. I will tell my children this story, tell them never to let anyone treat them in this way and that just like at school there are bullies when we are older too.
In my in my late twenties I had my first child and would stand back and would wait for other mothers to approach me when taking my little one to mother and baby groups. In my thirties I could never say no, other mothers would ask if I would look after their child, not that this is unheard off, but when it became a regular occurrence I would want to say I am exhausted with having a toddler and a new born and I could not cope with looking after another toddler whilst the mum would get their hair done or have a morning off. I would never see another mother stuck, if they are running late or have a medical appointment, but when it becomes evident that I am being used as free childcare I am more than happy to say No.
Strength often surprises us. When it comes to illness or sadness. Something from within takes over. My children have all experienced, illness, injury and pain. We have to be that person for them who shows no fear, no worry and certainly no tears. There is no stronger strength than a mother’s love.
I am, as I say 40 this year, and it is like a switch has been pressed and now when I look back if I had to deal with any of these situations the outcome would be so so different. It is like being a super hero with a new power. I have the strength to stand up at school meetings and disagree when topics close to my heart are raised. I have the strength to deal with the customer service representatives on the telephone that are reading from a script and do not know how to deal with human beings. I have the strength to know I could go it on my own if ever the situation arose, although I have to say my husband and I are strong, but it is not that the thought has not crossed my mind. Strengths should be treasured, reward yourself when you know you have been strong and say I can do that again if necessary.
With all this I have to say there is one strength I still need to gain. To have the strength not to have that large glass of wine at the end of a long and stressful day. Maybe that one I will gain in my 50’s.