Soldiers, firefighters, nurses, police officers, MMA fighters, boxers, athletes in general, doctors, are tough. The list isn’t exhaustive. The thing is that the news and certain theories written by a small group of people have set the requirements one must meet to be considered tough. Those requirements are taken as gospel, they can rarely be questioned or challenged, it would seem. The tough people you must admire, that is it. However, it is hard to disagree sometimes. Let’s be honest, if you can take a punch, if you can run into a burning building, if you can do surgery or draw blood, if you can get tortured mentally or physically or both, yes, you are fucking tough. There is no way around that.

The list omits too many people if you ask me. Parents are tough. Mothers who carry their children nine months in their womb are tough. People who are wrongfully imprisoned for decades and never lose their sanity, they are tough. Kids who fight cancer with incredible grace are tough. People in refugee camps are tough. Rape victims who still live and haven’t lost faith in other human beings are tough. People who lose their whole family like some people I know from Rwanda and that keep living life as best as they can, they are fucking tough. I could go on for days with a new list of people who are tough.

Then, there is you. Yes, you. Do not let popular culture fool you. They don’t own the requirements for toughness. You are tough. Are there people tougher than you? Yes, they are out there, by the millions, by the hundreds of millions if not more! That doesn’t mean you are not tough. It isn’t because you haven’t been shot, or you haven’t starved, or you haven’t been tortured, that you are not tough. You are tough. You might not be in the list that I shared at the beginning, but you are tough. You are not the toughest, but you are tough.

Would you like some proof? Well, the first one, you are reading this text, which means you are alive and conscious. You are healthy enough to allow your brain to do its work. That is toughness. To be blunt, think of the fact that some people your age or younger, didn’t make it today. Yet, here you are. I know it could be that you live in a safe place and not in war-torn Yemen for example, but you are here. You are not the toughest, but you are tough.

You are tough because you are here, living, breathing, working, studying, taking care of yourself and others, getting up everyday, doing what you can to live another day, etc. You are not the toughest but here is the thing: you don’t have to be. I am sure you have been through some tough times, whether emotionally, psychologically, financially or physically. You almost lost it or you did lose it. Yet, here you are today. You got through whatever it was that almost got you. Isn’t that toughness? It is. Once again, you are not the toughest. You are tough though. Yes, you are.

I can tell you for a fact that you could very well be surprised how tough you really are. You’d be surprised what your mind and body can withstand, what they can live with, what they can get past, what they can chew and spit out as if it was barely some gum. Time will be your best teacher on toughness and experience will add to those lessons. People get tough and tougher with time and experiences. You end up developing thick skin. The issues of the past become barely a nuisance as life goes by. You become tougher with time and you could be surprised at your level of toughness one day. Life will keep testing you, everyday, without any reprieve. Life is charming that way. You must keep going. Jumping over one hurdle, repeat and repeat. What is toughness if it isn’t tested?

You are tough. I bet you probably think you are not tough, because, most likely, you are comparing yourself to someone tougher. Guess what? There is always someone tougher. There is always someone who will make you look like a wuss, a coward almost. We don’t all have the same courage or mental strength or physical strength. We want to be tough or tougher than we already are. Well, if you are not tough, give it time, you will become tougher as years go by. By the way, if you want to become tougher, you can. Find something that scares you and do it. Toughness can be brought by stepping out of your comfort zone. That simple action can be a first step to conquering your fear and therefore, be tough or, in some cases, be tougher.

You are tough. You are not the toughest. Look back at the things that have happened to you, look how you beat the odds and came out of the situation triumphant. Remember the hard times that forged your character. Remember how weak you were once, remember how lost you were, remember how scared you were. Remember those moments and look at you today. You are here, aren’t you? You are tough, but you are not the toughest and you don’t need to be.

Just one man’s opinion.

Now, smile, remember you are tough, and go on with your day.

Freeman. B

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