Three smiling women leaning on each other's shoulders

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The tree is up and the decorating is done, but your to-do list is only beginning. There are presents to buy, cards to send, parties to go to and a thousand other things you haven’t even thought about yet. The holiday season is in full swing, and already, you’re shouldering a weight heavy enough to overwhelm anyone.

Except her.

She’s always calm and collected, even now as she navigates the hustle and bustle of this time of year, refusing to flinch, waver or crumble under the pressure. In fact, now that you think about it, you’ve never even seen her break a sweat.

You know that friend. She’s strong enough to walk through her own fires and wise enough to extinguish yours. She works hard without complaining and somehow is never too tired to give to everyone around her. From where you stand, her life is perfect.

From where you stand, her life is perfect.

You wonder what her secret is, both inspired and annoyed by her “put together-ness.” She’s got it all figured out. How does she do it? 

I’ll let you in on a secret: she doesn’t have it all figured out.

She may seem unflappable, but she is human. She, like each one of us, has her limits. She may go out of her way to help carry others’ heavy loads, but she has her own stuff, too. Reach out. Check on her.

I know what you’re thinking. “Check on her? No, no. She’s so strong. She should be checking on me.”

Yes, she may be strong, but strong people are not immune to struggle. Just because she never talks about the hurts she feels does not mean they aren’t there.

Yes, she may be strong, but strong people are not immune to struggle.

Maybe she keeps quiet out of fear of being bothersome or a burden. Maybe she dives so deeply into working and meeting others’ needs to find a sense of worth she can’t seem to find elsewhere, to earn a love she is fighting to feel. Perhaps, there are other aches she keeps to herself for completely different reasons. 

Despite the Wonder Woman cape you envision blowing in the wind behind her, she is but a mere mortal—plagued by very real, very human emotions. While the holiday season may be merry for many, it can also be a triggering time of year for those fighting internal battles.

Maybe she enjoys being highly productive all the time, but there is a chance she’s over-productive to distract from anxiety or to cover up anxiety. I have been there. I’ve been the strong friend—zipping back and forth—attempting to be everything for everyone and trying to create an illusion of perfection so no one could see any of the things that were causing me distress. 

I didn’t want to ask for help when I needed it, and chances are, your strong friend won’t want to either. After all, the “strong friend” label is a cumbersome load to bear and ripping it off—exclaiming to the world that you’re not superhuman—isn’t always the easiest thing to do. 

Check on your strong friend this holiday season—the one who has it all together. Sometimes, a listening ear is all one needs to unravel the mess in the mind. So when you ask how she’s doing, listen carefully to her answer. Show her you care and that her well-being is just as important as hers. Let her know she is seen, valued and loved beyond what she does. 

Let her know she is seen, valued and loved beyond what she does. 

We know looks can be deceiving and everything is not what it seems. You never know what silent battles someone is fighting. So check in often, pay attention and love well. After all, everyone—even the most put-together people—could use a little more love, not just at Christmastime, but all year round.

Do you have a friend in your life you deem as “the strong friend”? What kind action can you take to make them feel seen this holiday season?

Image via Alexa Tonn Photography

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