What does “tough” mean?


Pexels—Ruslan Khmelevsky

Kettle Bell and dumbbells on the floor.

What words pop into your mind when you hear the word “tough”? Empathy? Feeling? Guilt? 

Yeah, I didn’t think so. 

Being tough to society means being strong. To push away feelings and forget about weakness. Is it hard to hide feelings? No. Is it hard to lie? Nope. What is tough is admitting you are vulnerable. It is a lot harder to tell people that you can be hurt. Sticks and stones can break your bones, but yes, words can still hurt. 

Being tough to me is the realization of flaws. If you can learn what you have done wrong, only then are you tougher than the rest. Kindness is a powerful tool that we have strayed away from. It’s easy to insult. It’s easy to bully. But it’s hard to say sorry. It’s hard to admit you need help. 

The mental battle is much harder than any physical issue. Bruises hurt for a day or two, but words can stick for years. While there is a lot of pain and sadness in trying to win the mental fight, the outcome can be enlightening. 

The dictionary definition of tough is to endure hardship or pain. But that often just means not crying, pretending not to care, letting nobody in to help you. Again, all of that is easy, and just about anyone can accomplish this. In the long run, you are ripping yourself apart, all because you fear being judged for being too soft. 

However, your ability to admit that opening up must happen to feel better is the toughest thing someone can do. It is okay to cry. It is okay to feel sad. Many people forget that sadness is necessary for a wound to heal. 

Nothing is more comforting than people around you during tough times. Jokes about crying are made all the time, but those who can joke and laugh about crying are the toughest people I know. When you can acknowledge feelings and understand them, only then are you a better you. 

Many people forget that sadness is necessary for a wound to heal

The population sees therapy only for mentally ill people, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. We all make mistakes. Nobody is a bad person for their errors, but good people come out and apologize. Good people try to make up for it. Good people are empathetic. 

Toughness comes from inside. Toughness comes from those who can show all emotions. Toughness is a word for a particular group of people. It is an uncommon group that needs to become a social norm. 

So how can we be tough? We need to learn to open up to people. We need to learn to ask for help more often. Most of all, we need to admit that we are faulty. For some, this is a change that can come with ease. For others, it will take days, even months, to realize how imperfect they are. 

Once we can live with being vulnerable, we can finally help others with the same struggle we had.