The Price of Being a Strong and Independent Woman

Being an independent woman allowed me to suppress a lot of my feelings down and ignore my needs. I wouldn't express how I felt because I chose to be seen as a strong, independent woman - the one who held up the fort; the one who kept it together.

In relationship writing, we talk a lot about the importance of being an independent woman. You’ll hear people say; I don’t give a shit about him/her, or I’m over it, I’m a strong, independent woman. You hear these lines all the time – I’ve said them myself. But the reality is, we do care.

When I was 22-years-old, I was sexually assaulted by a taxi cab driver. I remember telling my family what happened and seeing their disappointment in me. My aunt told me on the phone, “I just don’t get how this happened to you; you’re such a strong and independent woman.”

There’s this association with the word ‘independent’ that you’re tough, you can handle anything that’s thrown at you, and aren’t going to be emotional about it.

But naturally, I was emotional about being sexually assaulted; I was traumatized by it. I was angry – not so much at the taxi cab driver at that point, but at my family for doubting my independence and strength because I couldn’t handle the situation. I wasn’t a strong woman in their eyes.

The world has enough women who live a masked insecurity. It needs more women who live a brave vulnerability.

Brené Brown

Being an independent woman allowed me to suppress a lot of my feelings down and ignore my needs. I wouldn’t express how I felt because I chose to be seen as a strong, independent woman – the one who held up the fort; the one who kept it together.

Undoubtedly, being labeled a strong, independent woman helped me in many situations, well, that’s what I thought, anyways. What I didn’t realize was that it came with a price.

I was hurting, and I couldn’t let my emotions out. Who could I share them with? I had built a wall and identity as someone tough, blunt, and detached; I didn’t know who to turn to.

So, I gained weight. I went through episodes of depression. I developed anxiety.

I used everything I could as a distraction. I chased guys who didn’t want me. I scrolled endlessly through social media and watched a lot of tv. All in hopes of distracting myself from, well, myself.

It wasn’t until I went to therapy that I started to feel. 

My therapist told me, “you’ve been holding on to years of emotions. Let yourself cry; let them out.” And I did.

I cried at everything. If I watched something happy, I cried. If I heard a nice story about a dog, I cried. If I saw an elderly couple holding hands, I cried. I couldn’t stop crying. 

Rather than associating ‘independence’ with being tough and reserved, we need to shift the mentality and understand that being independent is about knowing who you are, your needs and wants, being vulnerable, and working towards living an authentic life.

You can be an independent woman and cry. You can be an independent woman and feel hurt. You can be an independent woman and feel. 

Being an independent woman isn’t about how reserved and emotionless you are; it’s about understanding your emotions, tuning into yourself, and giving your body, mind, and soul the love it needs to be the woman you want to be.

How to Live a More Authentic Life 

It’s time to give up the act

Sure, maybe some people fall for the “cold and reserved” act, but it’s time to give it up. You’re human, which means you’re emotional. Don’t try to hide it because it will catch up with you, and eventually, you’ll need to face the music.

While it’s not easy accepting who you are and being open, is it easier hiding your feelings? Really? Yeah, I didn’t think so. 

One word: vulnerability

You won’t be able to live an authentic life unless you live an honest life, which means you’re going to need to be vulnerable.

Now, this doesn’t mean you need to be vulnerable with everyone you meet. But it does mean, with the people you trust, you’ll need to push yourself to express how you feel and bring honesty into the relationship.

Embrace your imperfections

You’re not perfect. The bathing suit model on Instagram isn’t perfect either. No one, and I mean no one is perfect. If you’re struggling to live an authentic life, look at your values and goals – are you trying to be perfect?

Not to burst your bubble, but you’ll never be perfect. So it’s time to accept that and embrace the imperfect person you are. 

As a self help writer, it’s important to really look at the way our words shape us. While the phrase ‘independent woman’ sounds alluring, how do we define an independent woman? What are we teaching future generations?


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