It’s no secret that I’m proud to be surrounded by strong women; my two sisters, Cherry is an incredible single mother, the women I work with- all of my girlfriends are tough cookies. My own mother is the strongest woman I know and raised me to follow her footsteps in that way. I have always been flattered to hear that I’m a strong, fierce and independent woman, because women like this aren’t born; they create themselves. Nature definitely falls to the side and nurture wins this argument time and time again. Strong women are celebrated, idolized and written about. But you know what is often overlooked? How these fascinating, beautiful badasses came to be.
After a recent mind-fuck of a heartbreak caused by my own ignorance, I was bothering Cherry while she was at work for a distraction from wanting to puke over my own stupidity. I was watching yet another role model of mine; Emma Watson, in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, where Charlie is told “we accept the love we think we deserve.” Simultaneously, Cherry, like any best friend would, text, “I wish I could take the hurt away. You’re strong and confident and he doesn’t deserve you.” Earlier in the week while talking the situation out on separate occasions with another friend of mine and my big brother, they both assured me that I’m strong, I have been through this before and I’ll come out on top and better than ever. Strong is honestly the most used word to describe me recently (thanks to all my sweet and flattering friends). While I appreciate the recognition as a badass Boss Lady; I have a bone to pick with this image:
The first; it’s fucking exhausting. Being tough all the time is mentally, physically but most of all, emotionally draining. Once you’ve created the perception of being strong, there is no going back. No one warned me of this, damn it. It is expected of me to be hardcore all the time. I call the shots, I don’t overlook any details, and everything rolls off me. Even worse, IF someone catches me in a moment of weakness, they don’t know how to react and it is just incredibly awkward after that.
The second; I have no more left to give. Each situation that forces me to put up my best effort, learn from the experience and handle it in a graceful way, kills me. Little do people know that with every heartbreak, each death of a loved one, the loss of countless friendships; part of my huge and loving heart dies inside. It’s great being an inspiration to those that haven’t experienced adversity in the ways that I have and I’m thankful to be a rock to many; personally and professionally, but part of me fades away and I hate myself for it.
Third, people think it’s okay to hurt you. Apparently, because of this badass image I have created for myself, I allow people to think I’m more resilient than others. Oh, it’s just Jo, it’s okay because she has been through waaaay worse, those around me must tell themselves. Friends, family, boys; you name it and I have heard this line or something similar before. I cringe the moment I hear or read, “you’ve been through this before, you’ll be okay.” Well NO SHIT I have been through it before, that’s why it hurts now you fuckwad! If anything, maybe being a dick to a less independent girl would be beneficial and thicken their skin… mine is thick enough, thank you very much. Despite my tough exterior, everything still aches the same on the inside. Perhaps even worse because I can only let it go in the comfort of my own apartment with a select circle of friends.
Finally, why am I being a little brat? I’m strong! I wouldn’t have it any other way. I simply struggle internally to find an elegant way to be both strong, independent and awesome yet unguarded and approachable. I fear becoming so hardened by emotional abuse externally but mostly toward myself that I begin to shut others out. So many times, my thoughts are so loud inside my own head that I can’t even sleep. If anyone does know of a balance between being tough and having a huge heart; it is my role models in Cherry, Vanessa, and the women that raised me.