“A woman is like a tea bag –
you can’t tell how strong she is
until you put her in hot water.”
My friend and I looked at each other and smiled, both thinking how true that quote was. I thought about my friend and how the past year she had gone through so much with her parents, a difficult birth of her first grandchild, keeping her business going even when all this “hot water” was swirling around her. She is one of the many women in my life I consider strong!
What does it mean to be a strong woman?
Then I got to thinking – what does it mean to be a strong woman? Does it mean you have to be physically strong? Run a marathon, lift weights, kick box? Does a woman need to reach the highest levels of her profession to be considered strong? Does she need to be a super mom? Does she need to fix every single problem that comes her way and never take time for herself? As I think back on all the women in my life I consider strong, these qualities don’t necessarily come to my mind.
Well, then, what are the qualities that these women have that make them stand out to me as strong? I started to jot down my thoughts and these are the five qualities that are exhibited by the women I consider strong.
1. A strong woman is confident.
I believe a strong woman is confident in herself and her decisions. She know what she wants and she is willing to do the work to get it. She doesn’t define herself based on what she thinks others want her to be. She’s comfortable with the path she has chosen. I think this is especially true for women who are constantly torn between career and family. Some women want to have it all. Well, I don’t believe we can have it all. You make choices. Sometimes you choose your career and sometimes you choose your family. As a working mother, I knew I couldn’t give to my career what maybe I could if I had no children. I also knew I couldn’t go on every field trip or school outing. I was constantly juggling. But I was OK with that as I wanted to work and I wanted to raise a family. The point is – decide on your path, be confident with your decisions, and don’t ever compare yourself to others.
2. A strong woman makes it work.
A strong woman knows how to get things done and make things happen. No matter how dire the situation she will figure it out. She will somehow make it better. What sets her apart form others is that she has a positive can-do attitude, she has the ability to push through the muck and she perseveres. A strong woman makes it work!
3. A strong woman is compassionate & caring.
The women in my life who immediately come to mind when I think of “strong women” are my sister and my sister-in-law. They each cared for their sick husbands for many years never leaving their side. They were compassionate & caring advocates fighting for the right healthcare, taking over all aspects of the household, just doing what they had to do for their husband. I think about these ladies and I wonder where they got their strength! Now that both their husbands have passed, they are still showing that strong sense of caring for their loved ones.
4. A strong woman surrounds herself with support.
A strong woman feels pain. She knows when she needs help and isn’t afraid to ask for it. I always say you need people to keep you strong so you can be strong for others. My sister always talks about her “sisterhood” – the other women in her life who rallied about her as she was caring for her dying husband. A strong woman knows when she needs some “me-time”, she knows when to stop and take care of herself first. Strong women help support other strong women.
5. A strong woman knows how to be happy.
A strong woman has a light bright spirit. She is basically a happy person and makes everyone around her a little bit happier. She knows how to make fun out of the most dire situation. When I was working for a large global company I attended a management conference every year that was mandatory for the top executives. It was a big event usually held in February in some warm climate. For weeks before the conference the women executives all agonized over what clothes to bring for all the meetings & events! Well, this one year, a colleague of mine had just started her chemo treatments for breast cancer when we had to attend the conference. We arrived on Sunday at noon and had a short meeting before we got changed for dinner. My colleague was at the afternoon meeting – I could tell she was tired. When I met her for dinner a few hours later she had completely shaved her head! She had gone back to her room after the afternoon meeting and her hair was starting to fall out so she went to the hotel salon and told the hair stylist to shave it off! Can you imagine? We were all shocked but she was smiling and laughing! She said she couldn’t stay in her room crying so instead she decided to face the inevitable and to make the best out of an awful situation! I often wondered if she did this for herself or more for us! Strong women want their family and loved ones to be happy.
I have been blessed to be surrounded by so many strong women in my life. Actually I couldn’t write about all of the strong women that I have been thinking of! This is to all of you, you know who you are, love to all of you!
And don’t forget that March 8th is International Women’s day. Read about this year’s theme and call to action here: Pledge for Parity.