The culture has it twisted when it comes to the strong, independent woman stereotype. Supposedly strong means you never show weakness, and independent means you don’t need anyone else. The reality is no one can go through life strong 24/7, and no one can live life totally independent of others. As I’ve written before as a part of the New Independent Woman Series, it’s time to rewrite these definitions. I have redefined the terms strong and independent in a way that works for my life, and I encourage you to do the same for yours.
For me, strong means. . . a woman can carry weight. She can persevere when things get tough. She can dig deep into her faith reservoirs and know all things will work together for her good. She prays for more strength, and she seeks help in times of need. A strong woman has a strong sense of who she is; therefore, she’s not swayed by public opinion. Strong means she protects her joy and peace, she covers her family and friends, and she stands up for what is right, even if she has to stand all by herself. A strong woman who doesn’t pretend to be strong but actually is strong lives a life of balance. She’s capable of doing a lot but not foolish enough to do more than she’s able.
Strong does not mean. . . a woman never cries or has bad days. In fact, bad days only make her stronger because she drops her pride long enough to learn what life is trying to teach her. Strong does not mean she has to say yes to everyone just because they ask. On the contrary, a strong woman uses the word “no” to keep her priorities straight and her health in check. She says, “No, I can’t take on that extra responsibility. No, I will not allow you to speak to me that way. No, you cannot invade my privacy or disrupt my peace. NO.” Strong does not mean a woman walks around with a chip on her shoulder or bitterness on her tongue. She can and does show tenderness and vulnerability.
For me, independent means. . . a woman takes responsibility for her life. She refuses to play the blame game or make other people scapegoats for her failures. Independent means she doesn’t allow the culture to define her. Just because she’s a woman it doesn’t mean she’s less than a man; just because her skin may be darker or lighter than someone else’s it doesn’t mean she’s any less beautiful. An independent woman is empowered to choose her companions, belief system, and standards based off of what she deems is right for her. She can stand on her own, if need be, but she doesn’t boast about it or make others feel small just because they can’t.
Independent does not mean . . . a woman doesn’t need love.It does not mean a woman likes going home alone. It does not mean she hates men or that she will not submit. It does not mean she’s stopped being feminine, sexy, and lady-like. An independent woman still wants to be courted and pampered. She still desires to have doors opened and to be treated to dinner. She still wants to be protected and covered.
My definition of strong and independent has been in process for decades. As I approach 40 years old and 18 years of marriage, I’ve found a good balance that works for me as a woman of faith, a wife, a mother, and a professional. I’m not so concerned about living up to society’s standards or to other people’s opinions. I’m more concerned about living in balance and with dignity, staying true to what God says and who He created me to be. That’s the essence of being strong and independent.
Ladies, I encourage you to define a strong, independent woman for yourself, and then live it. Be her. Do you. Love you.
BMWK — How are you redefining the strong, independent woman stereotype in your life?
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