Hello from the female adulting side of things. I hope this finds you where you are supposed to be. That is such a vague statement but safe, as should introductions be if you are writing of uncomfortable things.
If this is your first time reading this series, please make time to read the earlier posts and I hope you continue coming back every Friday till this series ends (is that even possible). And to those coming back, much appreciated, keep safe, and I hope to see you next time.
Today I had some difficulty deciding which part of my existence to tackle until I finally settled on one of the very common affirmations “I am a strong, independent woman!” Saying it louder so my sisters at the back can hear me. I believe the best way would be for me to dissect the two separately and then bring them together and sort of see where I am.
I often thought that being strong meant you do not easily become emotional and cry in front of anyone, you keep a brave face through it all. I have had a lot of unlearning to do and one of the first things I then understood was that being emotional also meant that one feels things more deeply than the average Themba (see what I did there, replaced Joe with Themba, taking back the power, one word at a time✊✊✊) and does not necessarily mean they are then displayed for the world to see. I then understood strength as me being aware of what kind of person I am and avoiding going down rabbit holes. It has taken years and I am still learning as I evolve and learn new truths. Being strong for me is also acknowledging what I am feeling, deep as it may be, but not letting it run wild. Strong means not giving up, getting up when I have fallen and apologising when I am wrong. I get rubbed the wrong way when I am raising a concern or something, especially in the workplace and a man thinks saying “No need to get emotional is going to shut me down”, like that as a self-proclaimed strong and independent female I will back down because I am running from such a label. Well, I do not because I am neither screaming, shouting or sobbing so people need to get comfortable with hearing my truth for what it is.
I am starting to get a sense that strong should have been a post on its own, but the common narrative out there is a strong and independent woman. It has me wondering if I cannot be one or the other. Is it possible to be independent and not strong? Can I resign to be strong and dependent? Honestly being independent is expensive for me at times, 😂😂😂.
I think you need the strength to realise that you cannot do something by yourself, and you need just as much to be able to be independent and stay independent because it is not as glamorous as advertised.
Then there is sweet independence which can be defined as not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc… I am a natural independent thinker and I act on those thoughts and have a natural inclination to not care what people might say. Some would say I do not have etiquette, but I think I am working too hard to have someone frown on my choices and I acknowledge it. It is your right to frown just as it is mine to keep living my life. Basically, free spirited way of life comes easy, so my focus was getting financial freedom. As far off as I can remember I have been obsessed with financial freedom, not to get rich but to have enough to make my own decisions. I understood money as the currency that will buy me a seat at the table at family gatherings, space to be myself. My money, my decisions, right? I have slaved for this vison and am grateful that it became a reality and I want it to be so for so many out there.
With that in mind, I begin to understand that my understanding of financial freedom came from being raised in a society that will not respect you or your opinions unless you have money to back them up. It is sad but true, but independence is more than finances, and it is a continuous process acquiring it. So, does it mean to be less privileged is to lose your voice in this world?
After having dealt with these two concepts separately, how do I understand being a strong independent woman? I know that it is recognising that I control my destiny and happiness, regardless of institutional bias towards women. It is having goals and dreams and working towards them and changing them as I evolve. It is being kind and loving as well having a say in decisions that affect you. Being strong and independent is taking care of myself first so I can take care of the next person, it is to know my limits and set boundaries. It is to live my own truth.
This series is a journey to help myself mostly, understand what is to be a woman. I feel you become a female adult by virtue of age and laws in your country, but you choose which kind of woman you want to be. I am strong, independent and so much more.