What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? Or weaker?

As I sit on my desk, phone in hand, contemplating for the nth consecutive day about creating a new blog entry, I can’t stop wondering about the validity of “what doesn’t kill you makes your stronger.” Surely some things just make you weaker or leave you unaltered. I did get off the desk and go to work on each day…its just that creating something for a blog on a weekly basis starts to feel annoying very quickly.

A quick google search reveals that it was none other than Nietzsche that came up with this maxim, and it doesn’t surprise me. While it looks great on a T-shirt or a get-well-soon card it doesn’t stand my test of what ‘a good idea to live by’ should be. There are plenty of things that have happened in our lives, which have left us vulnerable and susceptible to further damage. This might sound like I’m talking about COVID-19, which seems more dangerous for the old and the ones with a pre-existing condition, but I’m actually just talking about personal life experiences that we all have everyday.

Give a bad presentation…and every future presentation will scare you.

Go through a heartbreak and you’ll always be scared to love someone again.

Get in an abusive relationship, and you’ll be suspicious of anyone who’s ever nice to you.

For some people (like me) bad experiences are permanent lesions on the skin that can’t get healed completely. They are easy targets for new bad experiences and the world can hit you right where you’re the weakest. It can’t destroy you if you’re careful but it definitely brings back the familiar pains.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger seems to come with a baggage of constantly proving that life can’t one-up you. Well sometimes it can…sometimes you just feel like shit and get on with life nonetheless because that’s what you do. The need to put a positive spin on the nightmare that your life can feel like at times makes me anxious. I don’t know if I’m doing the world such a terrible disservice if on a bad day at the end of a bad week closing a bad month, I decide to curl back into my blanket and not get up with a “never say never” attitude. I’m not saying I’ll stop living or taking risks because then I’m probably not doing my species any justice, but I do like a break from positive fighting spirit.

I know what you’re thinking… “here’s a motivational speaker we have been missing!!” Well the truth, as I see it, is life and people and situations defeat you at times. What gets you through can be an “I’ll fight it out attitude” or can be just the passage of time healing your wounds enough to make everything usable again, and the evolutionary tactic of having a finite memory space in the brain. One day you’ll let it go either by choice or by habit. I think both of them are valid routes to take. So if you see someone going through the pain of public embarrassment, heartbreak, abuse in a relationship or COVID-19, please avoid saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!”

Published by anubhutib

Graduate student in Finland navigating through PhD and trying to have some fun along the way.

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