What does it mean to be a strong woman?
If you were to look up the definition of a strong woman, who comes to mind? I think of Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Ellen Degeneres, Jane Goodall, Malala Yousafzai, Helen Keller…the list goes on. All of their skin pigments vary while some are alike, some opposite, and some bonded by the same genetic makeup. However, why are these women strong? They are strong because they have persevered. They have been challenged in ways unimaginable. They have been abused; they were put down by men and fellow women; they been told they weren’t enough by many who have stood in their paths only to try and destroy them. These women have paved the way for women’s rights, individuality, sexuality, and so much more. These women are those we aspire to be.
They are undeniably strong forces of nature that have created life and have continued legacies. They’ve created their legacies and have shown many of us the way to carry them on. So why does an average woman like myself get called “strong” from time to time? I keep asking myself that because I’ve heard it but never believed it. I’ve told other women they were strong and they didn’t believe it. I think the problem is that we see strong women to be those who have accomplished worldwide achievements. We believe that the definition of a strong woman can be comprised of struggles that would shake even the bravest person to their core. However, don’t women like me and the women in our everyday lives do that daily? Let’s dissect this a bit more. When you are born a female, there are preconceived notions about who you should be and what you should be through your few years as a girl and your many years as a woman. There are also many unfortunate stigmas that a woman are faced with.
We can come off as being bossy, too emotional, or uptight. There are many moments where a woman might feel like she can’t win just for being herself. That needs to stop. A strong woman is a woman who gets up in the morning and decides to change her circumstances. She works hard, but she also knows how to let go sometimes. A strong woman is a woman who is family oriented but hustles to provide and support that same family. Some may call her absent or a workaholic. Although, don’t mistake her hustle for anything than what it is. A strong woman fights through the hard times and rises, even more, when people try to bring her down. That’s not to say that her rise and reign will be easy to accomplish. She feels all of her emotions and allows herself to be in tune with her mind, body, heart, and soul. This very woman may shed a few tears or even have the occasional meltdown in her car after a long day, but she is still no less of the strong woman she started the day as. This strong woman may lose sight of what she is after and feel helpless. She will feel weak. She will feel broken.
She might want to crawl into a dark place, but she is strong because she uses her resources and her courage to come out of the darkest hours. She might need help, but again, that does not make her any less intense. She is strong when she asks for help and healthy when she refuses it. Make no mistake that she can do for herself just as much as she may take a helping hand. She is a leader. She is the teacher, and at the same time, she is a student. She is a survivor of many things and an advocate to help those in need. She is a mother, friend, daughter, wife, and a human that creates life physically and emotionally. After reflecting on these things, I believe that the true definition of a strong woman and what it means to be strong truly lies within the reality that we are each strong in our way. We each hold powers that we may be fully aware of or completely oblivious to.
It is only a matter of honing that power and letting it take us on the adventure we all call life. There will be moments where we cannot channel the strength we need, but the beauty of that is that strength is found after the hardest tribulations. We find power when we cannot see the end in sight, and hope feels lost.
“We are strong women because we find a way to make the sourest lemons into the sweetest lemonade.”
(Thank you Dr. Katowski from ‘This is Us’!)