Strength Isn't About How Strong You Are

Strength Isn't About How Strong You Are

To hold your fists up to block your face as life reals back for another punch.
"You're strong for every reason and you matter to so many people. So how could you think you're weak when every time you fall you come back stronger than before? You're brave, my sweet friend, and that's what makes you so godd**n beautiful."
-r.m. drake

I recently had a friend remind me that "a big part of being an adult is caring about your image," and I found myself incredibly floored by such a thought. At first, I found myself arrogantly in denial, responding quickly that I didn't care what others thought of me because they didn't walk in my shoes every day. But the thought lingered in my mind for the rest of that afternoon.

What did others think of me? How is Mikaela York described to individuals that have never met her? I'm sure it starts off as something like, "you know, she's blonde, blue eyes, super talkative and a little loud..." But what do they say beyond that?

When I turned twenty-two last year, my best friend gave me a bracelet from the Little Words Project with the word "strength" inscribed on it. The purpose of the bracelet is for you or someone else to visually portray how you or they view you. So she chose strength, and I was speechless.

How could a simple, beaded bracelet proclaim such a profound viewpoint on an individual? How could a single bracelet tell my story in what she believed to be the most accurate light? But most importantly, how could I be strong if I felt like shattered china?

I still wear that bracelet every single day.

What surprised me; however, was that she was not alone in describing me with the word "strength".

A month ago I participated in an activity with my sorority sisters that entailed over 100 pieces of paper taped to the walls surrounding us. On each piece of paper, a different member's name was typed out in bold cursive, but nothing else. A clean slate. We were then challenged to go around and write words that we believed to best describe whatever person we chose to write about next.

When I finally reached for the paper that contained my name, two words stood out over and over again:



At first, I admit I was a little annoyed. Why did people think I was so "strong"?! Is that a cop-out because my dad died? Because I recently decided to proclaim every weakness I have to the universe and anyone that cared to listen?? Aren't I more than that?

And then it hit me. I was receiving one of the greatest compliments from people that interacted with me every day. I'm not just Mikaela York, a Biology major at the College of Charleston, or the blonde haired, blue eyed girl that talks too loud in the library. I was me.

The girl who watched her father die 6 days before his 45th birthday. The girl who had back surgery at 16. The girl who didn't ask for help when she ran out of money for food. Who didn't tell anyone she was suffering, and instead acted as if nothing was wrong when in reality her entire world was crashing.

But you see, my strength didn't come from hiding my weaknesses. Instead, it came the day I decided to speak out about them. To humble myself and use social media as an outlet to broadcast the negative lights in my life instead of simply the positive.

Strength by its very definition does not come from how much weight you can lift or carry. Nor does it come from your ability to stuff any and all emotion out of your own subconscious and remain steadfast, stone-faced, in the middle of a hurricane.

It comes from your perseverance to stand again. To hold your fists up to block your face as life reals back for another punch. To take another step even if all you can do is limp. To crawl when you can no longer walk.

Our strength comes from our decision to find joy in life even when we struggle to see it at first. To search only for the good in life. To remain positive regardless of what negativity drags us down. To become the light others reach for in life. To bear our scars with pride because they make us who we are.

In all honesty, I was shattered china, but I refused to believe that was the end for me. And so I filled my cracks with gold and slowly pieced myself back together into my new "normal".

I am strong because I know my weaknesses, fearless because I learned to recognize the illusion from the real and I am brave because I decided to take another step anyway. And if I can learn to be all of these attributes, I have full faith that you can too.

So here's to the moments that tear us down, for they are what lead us to who we are destined to be.

Cover Image Credit: Mikaela York

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10 Shows Netflix Should Have Acquired INSTEAD of Re-newing 'Friends' For $100 Million

Could $100 Million BE anymore of an overspend?


Netflix broke everyone's heart and then stitched them back together within a matter of 12 hours the other day.

How does one do that you may wonder. Well they start by announcing that as of January 1st, 2019 'Friends' will no longer be available to stream. This then caused an uproar from the ones who watch 'Friends' at least once a day, myself including. Because of this giant up roar, with some threats to leave Netflix all together, they announced that 'Friends' will still be available for all of 2019. So after they renewed our hope in life, they released that it cost them $100 million.

$100 million is a lot of money, money that could be spent on variety of different shows.

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Our Struggle: Tackling Millennial Debt

In a generation where friendships and relationships don't last, debt is the only constant factor.


Lexington, Kentucky

As I sit on Jane's bed, I begin to start typing a topic that has been long over due, millennial debt.

Debt is not just a financial entity, but is intertwined in every aspect of our lives. It shapes the way we grow up, our political views, and even our friends.

I think my finances could be better, and it stresses me out sometimes, but why am I in debt to begin with?

As I started to ask this question for my own beneficial purposes, I realized that people around me are worse off.

During spring quarter I had (what felt like) my first big girl finance talk. An Alpha Phi alumna came and gave a quick talk about the book "Rich Bitch", and I loved it. It was the first time I was exposed to the theory of 'financial stability' and I wanted it. I kind of thought of college as this lawless place, where I can do whatever and figure it out later, but it's not. Talking about finances is uncomfortable and weird, but it has to be done. Just because you have a job doesn't mean you can do what you want, especially when you're spending and are already in debt. I feel like it's harder going to school in a big city because everything is so expensive. There's so much to do and explore, and it all cost money.

I looked around me and realized for the first time that people take out crazy loans to go to school.

I think our culture is very fucked up.

"But it's all cool and all because we're all doing it". What kind of mentality is that? We don't have to go to school, let alone a private expensive university. Where is this pressure that 'going to college solves everything' ? Going to college does not guarantee you the best years of your life. You might not find your 'sisters' or 'brothers'. I am the living proof that college kinda f*cking sucks, people are shitty and justify their behaviors on alcohol.

So why are we spending so much money to be here?

The loans that we are taking out are not for education, but for the lifestyle that college offers. The debt you will have for the rest of your life, is for four years of 'college'. You're going to take out loans just so that you have a desk job, go out to happy hours with your buddies, and save for European vacations once in a while; while slaved to your loans for pretty much the rest of your life. When did this become the norm? There's nothing wrong with this lifestyle, because it provides a sense of security, but it cannot be the path we take because we are scared to explore our other options.

Millennials are in debt, partly due to our parents being a mess. How many of our parents attended college, let alone in this era? College is not for everyone, and it's okay to experience it and leave, just as much as it is okay to never experience it. Why are we taking out loans and settling to a life full of debt? Because it's safe. Debt is the only thing that lasts. In our generation friendships and relationships come and go, but debt stays.

What is wrong with us?

I'll tell you what (I think is) wrong with us. We grew up when the internet was a 'new' invention. How many of us can talk to our parents, and seek advice? We are exposed to the world, good and often bad, that is enough to want us to take comfort in a distorted version of reality. We are a generation that has it's own problems, it's own new wave of statistics. We are the generation that people will write books about a decade from now. We are the generation that has fun for Instagram likes. We are the generation of $6 dollar lattes. We are the generation that hides on their phone when confronted with awkwardness. We are the generation that has crew love. Our best accomplishment is making it on Old Row. We are the generation that has less racial tension. We are the generation of Rupi Kaur poetry. It's not all bad, but the bad parts are bad.

A decade from now, we will see that everyone that attended and graduated college, must of had something really wrong with them, myself included. How are we able to do all this homework and keep up with social and economic pressure? Are we giving up our sanity in return? Are we blindly following a system that doesn't actually better us?

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