I know a lot of strong women. They’re amazing, inspiring, and downright impressive. Their example helps fuel my own strength. A lot of people consider me one of them. And I am, I suppose even if the label feels uncomfortable. Many of my women friends 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 don’t enjoy existing in overdrive all the time but we are driven to tap into our strength when it’s needed. And maybe that’s our fatal flaw.
We inadvertently create unrealistic expectations about what we are able and willing to deliver so that our 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 ostensibly limitless strength having become a foregone conclusion.
A friend once commented that it’s the strong women that are the most put-upon because we can seemingly take whatever is dished out to us. We’re an easy target in some respects. 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. You now that’s not how I roll. It’s just an observation about a subject that’s come up in conversations with friends. It seems appropriate to address this as Women’s History Month comes to a close. Strong women paved the way for the opportunities we have today and we certainly savor the fruits of their arduous work but it doesn’t mean we have to relentlessly carry the weight of the world on our shoulders.
So ladies, let’s rewrite what it means to be strong. We’re capable, forceful, and resilient but not invincible. We are not less valuable or strong for establishing healthy boundaries that acknowledge our limitations, humanity, and our own desires for happiness. Let’s manage our strength to thrive, not simply survive. To put it another way, let’s save Beast Mode for when it’s really necessary and no one else can do the job.
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