I’m Still Learning What It Means To Be Strong


I am a woman. And I am not afraid.

Does this make me empowered, or naïve?
Does this make be bold, or foolish?

Lately I’ve had a lot of thoughts rolling around in my mind about what it means to be strong. Sometimes it seems like the world wants women to be tough – but only to a certain point. Muscular, but not so muscular that you emasculate men. Powerful, but not too powerful that you don’t need a man.

Confident, but not invincible. Because even the strongest woman (strongest person) needs protection sometimes. Right?

I mean, in some ways it’s true. I know I can’t physically do everything. I know I’m going to need help sometimes. And no, I don’t want to be so strong that I come off as menacing. No, I don’t want to appear as if I don’t need support or love, or want someone to stand alongside me.

But when it comes to be independent and self-sufficient, is it such a bad thing to rely on myself?

I’ve never been afraid to walk alone, to be alone—does that make me foolish or brave?

Sometimes I think about what it means to be a woman today, a strong woman. All my life I’ve flitted on the edge, wanting to be empowered but wanting to be delicate, too. Wanting to be seen as beautiful, to be treasured. Yet wanting to be a woman that’s looked at with respect and reverence. A woman that’s confident. A woman that’s intimidating.

But can I be both?

As a woman, I learned all too quickly that you have to grow a backbone when you’re on your own. You have to know what you want, and more importantly, what you don’t. And not be afraid to stand firm in your decisions.

You have to be assertive, but you also have to realize that people don’t always have good intentions. You have to be guarded, but not let yourself be closed off from finding love.

You have to be smart, too. Know that you are capable on your own – that you will be fine and enough, just as you are. But that it’s okay to lean on others.

Having someone walk you home when its well past midnight and you’re leaving a party does not make you weak. Asking someone to assist you doesn’t mean you aren’t perfectly capable of doing it yourself. Leaning on, and loving a man does not mean you are no longer whole.

This is a lesson I’m still learning.

I’m still learning that when someone wants to take care of me, it’s not because they’re convinced I can’t take care of myself. I’m still learning that I do not have to carry all the weight of the world on my shoulders. I’m still learning that crying and feeling are not weaknesses. I’m still learning that when people love me, they want to fight with me, not leave me to fight alone.

I’m still learning that my stubbornness, my desire to stand between two males who are squaring up to fight thinking I can stop them, my offering to drive drunk strangers home, or involving myself with people who have the potential to really hurt me might be brave, but can also be foolish.

I don’t have to prove my strength by putting myself at risk.

Sometimes I feel fearless. Sometimes I feel afraid. But I’m still learning that regardless of these feelings, I am still strong. I am still capable.

I want to be the gentle, beautiful woman that’s taken care of; I want to be the woman who takes care of others. I want to be the woman who’s dependable and strong, the woman that doesn’t need anyone to take care of her, yet still wants someone to care. But then, at the end of the day, still has a choice.

I’m still learning that asking for help, being seen as delicate does not make me weak, but instead makes me strong. Strong enough to know that I don’t have to, shouldn’t have to face the world alone.

I’m still trying to find a balance between wants and needs, between the ways of the world and the hopes of my heart.

I’m still becoming the woman I’m meant to be, and I’m okay with that.

Life is learning process.
And I’m strong enough to keep on learning. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Marisa is a writer, poet, & editor. She is the author of Somewhere On A Highway, a poetry collection on self-discovery, growth, love, loss and the challenges of becoming.

Keep up with Marisa on Instagram, Twitter, Amazon and marisadonnelly.com

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