I went to a tarot class last night. It was my first time reading and learning in a social setting with (mostly) strangers, and it was a lot of fun. The format of the class was straightforward: the first half focused on the meanings and symbols and significance of a single card, while the second half focused on a couple of readings riffing on the theme of the card.
The particular card that was tonight’s focus was Strength, and as a starting point, the facilitator had us go around the table, introduce ourselves, and share how we defined strength, and how we defined weakness.
Therewere definite themes that carried across all of our answers. Strength is mastery of self, acknowledgement of need, choosing to do what is necessary in spite of crippling self-doubt. Weakness is allowing oneself to be mastered by fear, refusing to admit ignorance, sitting by while external forces call the shots in one’s life.
As a Bipolar person, a queer person, and a transgender person, I have been commended by many people for my strength. I’m never quite sure how to feel about this. Sometimes feels like “strength” really means “ability to pass for ‘normal,'” which is distressing and problematic. And, really, I don’t think I’m strong for those reasons exactly.
Strength, to me, is self-awareness and self-determination. It’s asking for help when I need it. It’s choosing to deal with my shit instead of pretending it doesn’t exist. It’s mastery of impulsiveness and emotion. It’s honesty.
And it’s amplified by the people I have chosen to surround myself with. In those moments when I need to reach out for help, I don’t have to reach very far. When I can’t support myself, I have a community who will support me, just as I support them when they’re struggling. Individually, we are awesome. Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts.
There is strength in solitude, and there is strength in numbers. I am lucky to have known a taste of both.