Dear Strong Woman,
I see the pain behind your smile. I know the tears you cry every night in the comfort of your bed. I know how difficult it is to get up in the morning and hide it all behind a smile. I know what goes on in this beautiful mind of yours. There are people who need you and you can’t let them down. I see you putting yourself at the end of the line because you don’t want people to hurt like you do. I see you fighting your own demons to be there for them. Being strong isn’t really a choice, is it? You become it because of circumstances.
You don’t show your pain because you heard that to be vulnerable is to be weak, that crying is a flaw, and that you need to get back up as soon as you fall. Yet you don’t. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay if you can’t. It’s okay. It takes time to unlearn these things — you were trained to be someone you aren’t.
It’s ok to embrace your vulnerability and express it with those you know and trust!
Hear me out. Strength isn’t about being able to hold in your tears when you feel sad. Strength isn’t about keeping your feelings inside when they’re too intense. Strength isn’t about pretending that everything is okay when your soul is hurting.
Strength is the opposite.
In fact, I’ve come to learn that there are certain times in life when we should stay strong, and other times when we should allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability is an act of courage and strength because we merge with our authentic self, instead of hiding behind a facade to appease others. Human nature is imperfect, yet the paradox is that we are whole within that sphere of imperfection. To embrace vulnerability as our greatest strength, we need to become aware of our pain points.
I know that tough times may seem like marathons, but the important thing to remember is that they do come to an end. So when the going gets tough, here are ways to make it go easier:
Don’t dwell in silence: Just remember, it’s okay to need someone. It’s okay to need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen to you, a hand to hold. We all need someone to remind us that we’re not invincible — that we are not alone.
Strength is allowing yourself to feel whatever it is that you need to feel in the moment. Strength is feeling deep when the world expects you to hide your sensitivity. Strength is finding the courage to speak up in a world that has been cruel to you. Strength is letting people in, no matter how many times you’ve been hurt before. Strength is being able to say, “I’m not okay right now. I need you.”
Even the smallest act of letting down our guard is a commitment to our personal growth.
Be open to the bright side: Consider our being akin to a jigsaw puzzle strewn across the floor. Some might say the puzzle is incomplete given the pieces are lying on the floor. However, by gathering them together we create the entire picture once more. That is the heart of our life story. We have disowned our fractured parts, instead of trying to piece them together. We are all a masterpiece; a Rembrandt replete with perfection. Yet, we focus on our brokenness in the same way as a cracked oil painting when exposed to the elements. The painting is no less beautiful because of its flaws. It is upon examining it up close we recognize the defects, while ignoring the complete picture.
Let the spirit move you: Strength isn’t the absence of weakness. Strength and weakness are one. There can’t be one without the other. Like you, life has knocked me down a few times, it showed me things I never wanted to see. I experienced sadness and failures. But one thing for sure, I always get up. When I have a crisis, I try not to say, ‘Why me?’ but ‘Why not me?’ I believe that my ability to think and to feel are gifts from God that I need to use.
You must know that you can do this. You are a strong woman, yet fragile and vulnerable at the same time, and you will make it. So just hang on and keep believing in yourself, always. Get out of bed and your comfort zone, have a short cry and a good laugh with a friend, and one day you’ll sing about how you got over the blues too. Soon, you’ll find yourself moving with the flow of life instead of against it. And this flow is what will deliver you beyond your suffering to a brighter destiny.
Now, are you beginning to see how vulnerability can be your greatest assets and not something to hide behind or diminish your self-worth?
I will leave you with some inspirational quotes, about how our weaknesses can become sources of strength, by inspiring women who have got through hard times:
- “I believe that suffering is part of the narrative, and that nothing really good gets built when everything’s easy. I believe that loss and emptiness and confusion often give way to new fullness and wisdom.” ― Shauna Niequist
- “Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” ― Pema Chödrön
- “Without pain, there would be no suffering, without suffering we would never learn from our mistakes. To make it right, pain and suffering is the key to all windows, without it, there is no way of life.” ― Angelina Jolie
- “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ― Maya Angelou
- “Women are never stronger than when they arm themselves with their weaknesses.” ― Madame Marie du Deffand
- “If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” ― Pema Chodron
- “We sometimes choose the most locked up, dark versions of the story, but what a good friend does is turn on the lights, open the window, and remind us that there are a whole lot of ways to tell the same story.” ― Shauna Niequist
- “Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.” ― Oprah Winfrey
- “Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am brave and worthy of love and belonging.” — Brené Brown
- “A strong woman is one who feels deeply and loves fiercely. Her tears flow as abundantly as her laughter. A strong woman is both soft and powerful, she is both practical and spiritual. A strong woman in her essence is a gift to the world.” ― Native American Saying
- “We have a choice about how we take what happens to us in our life and whether or not we allow it to turn us. We can become consumed by hate and darkness, or we’re able to regain our humanity somehow, or come to terms with things and learn something about ourselves.” ― Angelina Jolie
- “I like to play a strong woman, but a strong woman can also be very fragile and vulnerable at the same time.” ― Carice van Houten
- “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think.” — Brené Brown
Sending you love and light wherever you are in the world,