Bitchy, cold, opinionated, dramatic: These are words used to describe me a few years ago, mostly by people who had barely spoken to me.
I'll admit it: I wasn't the sweetest peach in high school, but I was dealing with a lot of family things, and my life had pretty much been flipped upside down. If you didn’t know me, yeah, I probably came off as a bitch. The thing is, though, if you DID know me, you knew my life was a wreck and I really just needed a hug.
Independent, ambitious, strong, passionate: These are words used to describe me now, by people who know me.
I’ve always considered myself independent, but my definition of the word has changed. I used to think it meant doing everything on my own, not needing anyone to help me; that self-sufficiency meant struggling until I succeeded by myself.
Somewhere in the two years after graduating from college (yeah, it took a little while), I chilled out on the drama, figured out what I was passionate about and channeled my intensity into determination.
So, here are the lessons I’ve learned from finding and owning my personal strength.
People want to give you a chance.
I’ve gotten jobs and opportunities that came about just because I impressed someone with my determination. I didn’t know if I was qualified or if I could even do what was required, but I told myself and my interviewer I could, and then I figured it out from there.
It’s okay to ask for help.
I used to think to ask for help made me weak. Now, I look at my younger self and think how dumb that was. The people around me are my greatest resources. Some of the most successful people I know tell me, “It’s about whom you know, not just what you do,” and it’s probably the best advice I’ve ever been given.
If you know people who have made it where you want to go, why not seek them out? They’ve done this before so they know the secrets.
Failure isn’t as devastating as we think it is.
Holy crap, do I know what failure is. Don’t we all? I used to be a person who got really down when things didn’t go right, and I still get a little sad when something doesn’t end up the way I hoped.
Now I’ve learned how to take that failure and use it to strive for better the next time around. That’s basically how I ended up in graduate school, finally doing exactly what I love.
You learn who truly supports you.
I’m lucky to have some pretty great people who love me for who I am, opinions and all. I’ve surrounded myself with incredible people who believe in me and carry the same kind of determination.
I’ll be honest, there are times when I don’t feel strong and I don’t feel like I can succeed, but it’s the people in my life who encourage me to keep going. I want to do great things, not just for myself, but for the people I love. Hearing someone tell me he or she is proud to be my friend is an amazing thing.
In our society, being a strong woman is sometimes considered a negative attribute. There have definitely been people in my life who criticized me for constantly voicing my opinion, but I found them to be toxic, and we parted ways.
I constantly heard, “You’re not going to find a boyfriend if you keep acting this way.” Some people still say things like this. Newsflash: If someone finds my strength intimidating, I probably don’t want to be with him, anyway.
This all probably seems pretty braggy and maybe conceited, but you know what? That’s okay. I can’t even count the amount of times I was called a bitch, either to my face or behind my back. It didn’t matter how independent I thought I was; that hurt.
Although the name calling and negative comments helped me to find myself and to discover how to be positive, even in bad situations, those high school days are still motivation so I never hear those words again.
The point is, we shouldn’t be afraid to be strong and ambitious. So, ladies, go out into the world and find your strength. Stand up for what you believe in; fight for your passions and own who you are.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It