Tough Girl

I am a tough girl. I will not apologize for it, and I’m not sorry. Girls and women are generally supposed to be demure, permissive, delicate, charming, quirky is sometimes ok, but only if you aren’t loud about it. Funny, but not at the expense of others. Whatever you do, don’t be offensive. Girls are supposed to be nurturing and caring.

Not this tank. Listen. My armor has helped me through some Shit. Capital S shit.

Some women have a quiet strength. Some women have a gracious power or a confident calm. Not me. I am loud, I am big, I stand out, I am unapologetic oftentimes. There are reasons for that. It’s not because I enjoy being obnoxious. It’s not because I wake up every day and think, “Self. Thank God you are a nearly 6ft tall round socially awkward, oversharing but devastatingly unique individual!” No. Getting through some of the lonely, judgmental, isolating, dangerous, confusing and harmful situations I was in regularly as a kid helped form this crust. Loss and disappointment and hardship hardened this crust. And thank God it did.

My strength is not something I just have. It’s from experiences. Shitty experiences. Shitty experiences and the best outlook I could possibly have while getting through them.

I regularly encounter people at work or socially who think I’m judgmental or unapproachable. Maybe I am. Some folks find my callousness offensive. That’s ok with me. Maybe those people need to find some inner strength to not give a crap about what others’ think about them. It’s not my job to make people around me comfortable.

If I were tentative and beholden to societal rules and expectations, would I be able to handle parenting a 14-year-old who has just come out to me? Would I be able to love and accept my son if I was not unaffected by others’ opinions? Proudly displaying Pride paraphernalia and showing an outward beacon of acceptance for those who don’t have it is important to me. It’s more important than your unease with it.

If I was more concerned with conforming to societal norms, would I have considered medicating my ADHD kid and be able to help him find his place and fight teacher after teacher who refused to work with him and see his worth?

If I was a delicate flower who never felt her voice should be heard, could I be in a marriage and partnership with someone who was driven and ambitious in an incredibly competitive and demanding industry? Could I have the fortitude and determination to make our lives work when my husband traveled all over the world and worked tirelessly in an office upwards of 60+ hours/week while I was home taking care of kids? If I needed and depended on my neighbors and community to help me decide what is right for my family, would I have been able to move our family four states in five years to support my husband’s career?

If I were all about everyone else taking everything from me for the sake of care-giving, would I have the courage to go after a second career in my forties?

My strength has given me the ability to move forward in times some people can only stand still. My ability to roll with hard and impossible things only happens because I am not squishy and weak on the inside.

Some people can be strong and still be gracious. Some women have mastered quiet graceful strength. That is not me and I won’t apologize for it. I am slow to cry. I am faster to laugh or joke about the hard stuff. My strength is something I have to pass down to my daughter because they are going to be a tall, strong, loud adult one day. I want them to not be afraid of their strength. I want them to know that strong is beautiful, but more importantly, it’s invaluable. It is for yourself, and for the people who appreciate it in you because you can let them borrow it. You cannot hold people up around you if you are weak. You cannot walk side by side with people who are in pain and hurting if you do not have strength enough to manage for more than just yourself. Strength is something you earn through hard and terrible times. It is not something to apologize for, it is something to draw on and be proud of.

If I am not soft enough for you, it simply means you are not strong enough for me. My experiences brought me here, and resenting that means ignoring everything along the way.

We need to stop apologizing for not being small enough for others.

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