Redefining the Phrase "Strong Woman"
I DON'T REALLY LIKE BEING CALLED A "STRONG WOMAN" ANYMORE.
1. I'm just honestly tired of hearing it.
2. It's redundant: Being a woman already implies a strength that only women can understand and appreciate.
3. It's starting to feel like the pain and trauma that many women (esp women of color) deal with is glorified with our "strength"
4. the parts of me that I would consider to be "strong" definitely contradict mainstream impressions of "strength"
THE TRUTH IS most OF US ARE JUST TIRED.
BEING STRONG ISN'T A CHOICE, IT'S A CIRCUMSTANCE. IT'S NOT SOMETHING EVEN WE HAVE TIME TO CELEBRATE, BECAUSE WE ARE TOO BUSY FOCUSING ON OUR WELL BEING.
THE TRUTH IS, IF IT WERE UP TO US, WE WOULDN'T SPEND ANOTHER WAKING MOMENT BEING "STRONG WOMEN," at least in the mainstream sense.
but it's not up to us. and we're going to continue walking in our strength and hopefully using it to make the world softer on the young ladies who come after us. at least that's what my mother did for me - i'll never know her strength. and i hope that my younger sister and future daughters won't have to know my strength either.
but i am a strong woman. and in order to proudly claim this identity, i needed to redefine it on my terms.
WHAT IT MEANS WHEN I CALL MYSELF A "STRONG WOMAN:"
1. realizing that my softest moments have been my strongest moments
the moments when i set my pride aside, when i listened to my heart, when i was most vulnerable, when i treated myself and others with love and delicacy. when i let myself cry, grieve, ponder, and feel everything i was supposed to feel. sometimes the strong thing to do is to spend a whole day alone figuring out how we want to feel about something. i didn't merely come out of those moments as a stronger woman - no. i was a stronger woman in those moments. during the cries, during the vulnerability, during the softest moments, i was strongest.
2. letting my heart take the lead, and making sure my mind Catches Up
this one has been particularly important to me. i used to think that being strong meant thinking logically and not letting emotions take the lead. today, i value my heart's role the most in big decisions. i trust that my intuition and heart have an understanding that may take time to rationalize. so with all big decisions, i've learned that the strong thing to do is to let my heart take the lead. in the cases that my mind needs to catch up, i make sure to get them on the same page.
3. listening to god, even and especially when he tells me what i don't want to hear
this one is huge for me. learning to pray for clarity and to actually take heed to the advice god gives has brought my strength to a completely new level. oftentimes, when we pray for clarity, we must be ready to hear what we need to hear - not what we want to hear. sometimes, what god has to tell/show us is painful. it has taken serious strength and discipline to take heed to that, regardless of the temptation to take the easier or more comfortable route.
4. seeing the best in others and in the world around me
i used to believe that being a strong woman required an overwhelmingly skeptical view of the world around me, and thereby, the people who live in it. i grew up with such a jaded perception of the world until i realized that was the easy way out. it was a cop-out because i was letting my fear get in the way of trusting people (and trusting myself). i am by no means naïve, but part of becoming a truly strong woman is having faith in humanity, at least enough to see the best in others. i've realized that my strength in this way has enabled others to show up as their best selves around me.
5. realizing that nothing is personal and everything is purposeful
being a strong woman has nothing to do with pride or ego. being a strong woman is about love, it's about purpose, it's about growth and truth. in order to commit to my purpose, i needed to stop taking things personally. realizing that nothing - legitimately nothing - is personal has helped me learn significantly from each new experience. instead of wasting energy feeling bad or pitying myself about anything that happens, i instead ask myself what its purpose is or what i am supposed to learn or gain from this experience. complete game-changer.
if you'll notice, my conception of strength comes from things happening inside of me, 100% of the time. strength is a mindset thing. in my strongest moments, my body is calm, cool, and collected. my mind and heart are at peace. i emanate positivity. i attract love and light. i seek truth relentlessly. i forgive. i forget. i cry. i pray. i smile, even when people don't smile back. even if i know they won't smile back, i still have the strength to smile, and to really mean it. i do the right thing, regardless who i'm dealing with or if they'll appreciate it. i respect others because i respect myself. i drop everything and love, regardless.
BEING THE SOFTEST I'VE EVER BEEN - THAT'S WHAT BEING A STRONG WOMAN MEANS TO ME.