What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger, In Our Every Day Lives

Who doesn’t love the latest Girl-Power anthem, performed with great energy and passion by Kelly Clarkson who belts out: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”

Every time I hear it, I want to press the accelerator a little harder, go a little faster, bounce in my seat, and sing out loud. If I’m at home, I simply must move, dance, and celebrate being strong, a survivor.

Now, of course, I know that guys too have their hearts broken. They too face repression and oppression. The song is for both genders, especially because both genders created it. Still, more films, music, books, and poetry have featured the bereft woman, picking up the pieces, buying new dresses, sitting for brighter highlights, and facing an uncertain future once more, carrying on with and for her children.

I think of her–that woman curled into a fetal position and staring at the walls all through that first night, her gut empty, sick at the thought of food and dawn. I think of the one who fell to her knees when she received word that her soldier husband would not return home to her; of the woman in the midst of choosing carpet and tile for her brand new home answering the door to learn that her husband of twenty-five years will no longer require the home or her. He’s found someone new. I also think of all those women who did not seek fame or infamy as they spoke of women’s health care and impossibly difficult choices.

Like those victimized by bad economies, downsizing, corporate mergers, fire, Hurricane Katrina, F-4+ tornadoes, glib talk-show hosts, and countless other setbacks, these women doubt their worth. For a time different for each, deep in the core of their mirrors, they doubt themselves.

But the best of us cannot be destroyed without our agreement. The bed can feel huge and cold, the world foreign and cruel, or as the Clarkson hit tells us in the opening lines, the bed may be “warmer / Sleeping [t]here alone.” We can exist in a monochromatic world of bleak sorrows, or we can “dream in color / And do the things [we] want.” We can choose to believe that “everything good is gone,” or we “can stand a little taller,” remembering that the day when it comes down to “just me, myself and I” is not an end, but a beginning.

So, sing it, women of all ages and nations, “What doesn’t kill [us] makes [us] stronger!” Heartache, heartbreak, name-calling, assault, and mandatory constrictions do not define us unless we agree to be defined. Stand tall and sing out!

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Connye Griffin
My life has both purpose and meaning because I weave words together to inform, inspire, and illustrate. As a former teacher with thirty-seven years of experience and now as a freelance writer and editor, I have coached others to communicate their messages effectively and listened closely to help others record their memories. I have written, edited, and coached all my days, and these have made for very good days.