Strength waits on other side of that door

In “Alice in Wonderland,” Alice opens a door to a whimsical world where a purple Cheshire cat appears out of nowhere – and having tea with a Mad Hatter is the norm.

She enters that world dazed and confused, yet feels 10 feet tall – literally – and finds her way by opening more doors, not knowing who or what is on the other side.

While the real world isn’t drawn from a storyboard, it is magical in a very real sense.

It’s magical in the sense that this world – like Alice’s – has many doors. Some we bust through, others we open inch-by-inch with our backs close to the wall. We don’t always know what’s waiting on the other side, either, but that’s one of the places where strength comes from.

There’s strength in opening a door and not knowing what’s behind it, for better or worse. However, there’s a lot more strength in opening a door, knowing what’s on the flipside, staying and letting emotion flood your bones.

There’s always that fear of coming face-to-face with the Boogie Man. There’s fear in knowing people have the capability to stab you in the back if you open the same door that seems to stay shut.

It’s almost like watching someone you thought you knew walk away – without a wave or a flip of the wrist. You can choose to close that door again or leave it open just enough for them to walk back through.

The question then becomes “Should I let this person back in?” or “Am I strong enough – good enough to go through this again?”

I think there’s magic in that as well. It’s proof that you’re strong enough to allow yourself to feel something, regardless of what brought you to your breaking point – or how numb you’ve become as a result of it.

Strength grows in the same deep – often times, dark – places where fear grows. Doorways are strategically placed in spots where you can’t get to them right away – and will only open when you find the boxing gloves you need to knock them down.

You can do it through words. You can do it through song. You can put pen to paper.

I like to have a balance of all three. I find that the best way to combat the heaviness of life and the daily demons that accompany it is to have an arsenal – because fear has many faces.

Strength doesn’t have to be visible to the naked eye. You just need to let it shine when it really counts – like a flashlight.

I found my flashlight and boxing gloves at an early age and it’s a new fight every time the world casts its doubt on me.

So, don’t run away next time fear creeps in. Let the Boogie Man come at you with everything he’s got. Let the monsters crawl out from underneath the bed.

They may know how to scare, but what they don’t know is that you’ve got a flashlight – and know how to use it.

Erin Kelly, 27, was born with cerebral palsy in Seoul, Korea and now lives in Altoona. E-mail her at