Postcards from Real Life: The Danger of Strength
I know a lot of strong women. They’re amazing, inspiring, and downright impressive. Their example helps fuel my own strength. Most people consider me one of them. And I am, I suppose. In fact, my girlfriends call me One Tough Bitch, although I’m not sure that’s deserved. 😉
I think there’s a myth or, at the very least a misunderstanding, about strong women. It’s that being strong comes naturally or easily to us. Not so. We are not super-human. We get tired, too… we just dig deeper and somehow keep going, if only in survival mode. And maybe that’s our fatal flaw.
Because we’ve inadvertently created unrealistic expectations, that strength becomes a double-edged sword. It comes as a shock to those around us when they discover we’ve reached our limits, sizable as they are. Since our friends and families have come to rely on us so heavily, there’s no back up in place for when we need help, our strength having become a foregone conclusion.
A friend recently commented that it’s the strong women that are the most put-upon because we can seemingly take whatever is dished out to us. It’s a vicious cycle in that the more we do, the more is asked of us. But just because we can handle it, doesn’t mean we should have to.
It might seem the ultimate compliment to a strong, independent woman to say that she can handle anything thrown her way so you don’t have to worry about her. Quite the opposite. We reach our greatest heights when we know there are people who are looking out for us as much as we’re looking out for them.
Don’t worry, this isn’t some veiled cry for help. (No need to fret, Mom. I know what you’re thinking…) It’s just an observation about a subject that’s come up in a lot of conversations with friends lately. It seems appropriate to bring into a discussion as Women’s History Month comes to a close. Strong women paved the way for what we have the opportunity to accomplish today and we savor the freedom to do great things but it doesn’t mean we have to needlessly carry the weight of the world on our shoulders.
So ladies, let’s rewrite what it means to be strong and allow ourselves a long play at life that doesn’t involve burn out. Let’s manage our strength to thrive, not simply survive. We’re capable, forceful, resilient… but not invincible. We are no less for having and acknowledging our limitations and humanity.
Whether you are a man or a woman, if you have a strong mother, sister, wife, friend, aunt, or other female figure in your life, do her a solid and pay attention. Honor her limits. She pushes herself hard enough already.
Being a strong woman is very important to me. But doing it all on my own is not. ~Reba McEntire