The Misconception Of What It Means To Be Strong

Let’s talk strength and its many forms. As I watched the Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination hearings last week and watched certain politicians (their names aren’t even worth mentioning) try and bait her into playing into the angry black woman stereotype that plagues every black woman who simply desires to make something of their lives, I heard everyone remark about her grace and her strength to sit there so unbothered. I too recall myself commenting on how strong she was because my actions would have been a bit different. But if you are a black woman, hell most women, know that her face said all of what she was feeling but she had to play up her strength because falling for their bait was not an option.

It made me think of why it is that strength is equated with just sitting back and taking whatever is thrown at you no matter how much you might be breaking down on the inside. Why isn’t showing your vulnerable side, your humanity, why isn’t that considered strength. Why do people try to hide their tears when all they need is a good cry?  It’s a shame that in a world that tries so hard to break you down, you can’t even show your hurt or else you will be thought of as weak. 

For most of my life I’ve been an extremely emotional, empathic, person and I feel things at a really deep level. I cry almost instantly when made aware of other’s pain. People have always called me too sensitive, too emotional, and weak because I cry when I’m sad, or upset, or even if I’m really angry. My wearing my emotions on my face has not been an easy thing. I used to hate when I was called all of those things. Now I embrace them. Now when someone says I’m too sensitive or emotional I just say thank you because allowing yourself to feel emotions and express them doesn’t make you weak. Crying when you need to doesn’t make you weak.

Showing that you are vulnerable and that you can be hurt, that you can be broken, makes you stronger than the ones who are still hiding their humanity. We have to get away from what is perceived as strength in this world because oftentimes true strength is revealed when we let our guards down and display our real emotions. We shouldn’t have to act like nothing gets to us just to come off as strong. Strength is surviving in a world that wants nothing more than to see you fail, by any means necessary.

Until next time… #BeVulnerable #BeBold #BeFearless

Jimmetta Carpenter

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The Perception of Strength

It may sound strange but I sometimes get annoyed with people always using strong as one of the words to describe me.  People tell me that I’ve been through so much and that with all of the struggles that I’ve had and still have they are amazed at my strength and how I manage to persevere through it and towards something better.

I want to say “it’s not as if I actually have a choice, I can’t just curl up and die”.  More importantly I want to let them know that I am most certainly not strong, at least not any stronger than they are or anyone else out in this world going through horrific tragedies.  What exactly is it to be strong anyway?

I think that people have this idea, particularly about women, that they are always sure of themselves, sure of where they are going, unafraid, and iron willed.  There is this notion that if we are emotional, if we show our vulnerability, if we express our fears and our doubts, that somehow that makes us weak.  I must admit I have played into that a lot.

I’m an extremely emotional person and I don’t try to hide it but I find myself sometimes apologizing for it and in many ways feeling embarrassed because of it.  My mother once told me that tears and crying is for the weak and I have to admit that this made me even more apprehensive about showing my emotions to the general public.

For the people that really know me, on a deep and personal level, and they know my weaknesses and love me because of them as well as in spite of them, I will show that side.  However, for the rest of the world, the outside people who have yet to get to know me, I have discovered that I have become that person who tries to put on the front of strength because I don’t want them to see what they might perceive as weak.

The thing that I have learned through discovering more about myself is that it is okay to not be iron willed all the time.  Showing emotion, shedding tears, being afraid, or having doubts doesn’t make you any less strong than the people who won’t let their guard down enough to show cracks of vulnerability.

Strength is not in just bouncing back from tragedy or powering through the hard times.  Strength isn’t about shutting people out because you are afraid of getting rejected.  Strength is not always proving that you have all of the answers when things don’t go as planned.  Strength is about being able to admit that you are afraid.  It’s about acknowledging that you don’t have all the answers and that it’s okay, because you don’t need all of the answers today.  Having strength is acknowledging that sometimes it is okay to be weak.  As I shift into the next level of my journey and move further towards my success I don’t want to waste time and energy trying to keep up a front of always being strong.  Because I am not.

I Have the Write 2 Be Strong In Spite of My Weaknesses… What is Your Write 2 Be?

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

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