I Am Strong Because The Women Before Me Were Strong

I Am Strong Because The Women Before Me Were Strong

Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
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One of my favorite quotes actually has an unknown author: "Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them."

I have low self-confidence, but I have always prided myself on being a strong woman. As I grow as a person, I continue to become stronger and stronger; I take shit from no one, I stand up for myself and my beliefs vehemently and passionately, and I use my privilege to stick up for those who don't share that privilege. With all that being said, I never would have become the strong woman that I am without the other strong women who came before me.

Representation matters - strong women will only grow when other strong women are in their lives. In 2017, we should stop demonizing strong women in the media. Language matters - calling outspoken women anything other than outspoken is an insult to strong women everywhere. As women's history month comes to a close, I want to talk about another kind of trailblazer: the women who have lead by example, the strong women who are the perfect exemplification of feminism and the way strong women can be. I would never have been the strong woman and feminist I am today without the women who came before.

I come from a family of strong, passionate, and big-hearted women. My mother is one of the most passionate people I know. She never half asses everything, putting her entire heart into everything that she does. She defends my brother and me, sticking up for us when we can't do it ourselves. She taught my brother and me how to be the best people we can be, taught us morality, selflessness, philanthropy, being a good friend and to emulate the qualities of our heroes and role models. She taught us that being ourselves was the most important thing, and taught us how to find people who would love and appreciate us, and push us to grow. She has never tried to stifle our dreams or tell us that our dreams were stupid, impossible, or not worth pursuing. My mother defends the rest of our massive family in a similar fashion, and even people she hardly knows. She will always find the positive in everything and inspires everyone around her. She is always smiling, laughing and cracking jokes. On more than one occasion, she has laughed so hard she's peed herself, which she then, of course, blames on having two children. A massive piece of who I am is because of my mother. If I become half the woman my mother is, I will be lucky. My mother paved the way for me to become the strong woman I am.

My Aunt Kerry has surpassed the title of "strong woman" and moved directly into "complete and total badass." She raised four boys on her own, survived stage four breast cancer, and then decided, at the age of fifty, she was going to have twins. Like, does that not scream badass? My aunt Kerry has never been bitter, never been negative about her situation. It is what it is. She has built this beautiful life with her four boys and the twins, who are the sweetest little babies anyone has ever seen. My aunt paved the way for me to become the strong woman I am.

My great-grandmother was an Italian immigrant who raised five children in the '40s. She was married at 19, and her first child (my grandfather) shortly thereafter. She was the matriarch of our family. She had her "throne," a massive armchair that was her chair specifically, that she would sit in and order everyone around. "Kate, go put the bread in the oven." "Joey, we're going to make an omelet in a bag. Chop some vegetables." She would tell hilarious stories and would claim that no one had visited her in days because a visit doesn't count unless you've had coffee. She was progressive for a woman in her '90s and hardly flinched when my mother told her that my Aunt Lorie had married a woman, and sent her congratulations. She passed away right before my freshman year, and I thought my world had ended. She is the largest reason that I found religion this past year because I can feel her there with me during mass. My mom told me about how proud my Nani would be that I was going through RCIA (basically how you become a Catholic as an adult). My Nani paved the way for me to become the strong woman I am.

I am a proud Gamma Phi Beta, and our philanthropic mission is to "building strong girls." We do this a number of ways, but it was what made me want to be a Gamma Phi Beta with every fiber of my being when I went through formal recruitment last spring. Like the women before me who have paved the way for me to become a strong woman, I will continue to pave the way for others to become as strong as I have become.

Cover Image Credit: Kate Marlette

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8 Things I Have Not Thanked My Best Friend Forever For In, Well, Forever

Thank you for always being the best.
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1. Being there through it all, even if you're not "physically" there

We can't always be together, but you have never completely "left" me behind and have been there with me through thick and thin and I am so grateful.

2. Being my biggest cheerleader

Thank you for not only being there through the bad, but also celebrating my victories with me. I can always look forward to telling you good news because I know you'll be happy right along with me.

3. Answering my "important" phone calls

Whether it's a "he texted me back!!!" phone call, or an "I found a gray hair, please help!!" phone call, you pick up the phone and hype up with me no matter what.

4. Being selfless, and going above & beyond to make sure I know I'm worthy

This explains itself and I am so grateful for that.

5. Brushing my hair when I don't feel like it

Okay, this probably sounds silly... But it's the greatest struggle to brush my hair and I'm glad you do it for me sometimes!

6. For being there through all of my mini-crises

You already know what I'm talking about here...

7. For talking me out of things

If it wasn't for you talking me out of things, I'd probably have quit my job, be dating a horrible guy, got my eyebrow pierced, etc.

8. Making me a part of your family

I'm too lucky to have you all as my second family.

Cover Image Credit: Personal Photo

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From The girl who always has a hard time on Father’s Day

This one is for my real dad and guardian angel and also my step-dad who's done so much for me and my family.

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I don't really talk about this much in detail because it is still pretty hard for me to wrap my head around. My real dad was such a fighter, a strong strong man that I will always look up to.

But instead of getting to down here, I get to look up to him while he is enjoying life in heaven.

My real dad died of cancer 18 days after my first birthday, so yes if you do the math it's been 20 years. He fought a long hard battle and tried so hard for me. Before I was even born, he found out he was sick.

The doctors couldn't really tell exactly what it was (medicine has developed a lot since then), so he was constantly going to the doctor and trying his best to find out what was wrong. All he had was a cough, who knew that meant he had a tumor growing pushing into his lung.

Like I said, he fought a long hard battle with a wife that was pregnant with his little girl. He fought for me to see me when I was born and spent a full year with me, but the cancer won.

April 21, 1998, a day that always pulls on my heart. That was the day I lost my daddy. But thank you, thank you for fighting a rough, long hard battle for me. It means more than you know.

My mom remarried when I was 7 to a man who raised me as his own. I will always have so much respect for him because of that. He took a child in that wasn't his in any way and did all he could to support me and love me and push me to be the best person I can be.

There are men out there that won't even take care of their own children, but my step dad took me who wasn't his own and raised me like I was.

I could never thank him enough. He was so patient with me and taught me the things I know my real dad would have if he was around and able. Like how to ride a bike (even though it took until I was 12 to learn), how to drive a car (thank you for teaching me in your truck – I told you I wouldn't wreck), or how to play basketball and to find something I loved and stick with it. You taught me so much and I can't thank you enough.

I can honestly say I've been blessed beyond belief with both a real dad and a step dad. My real dad is now my guardian angel who watches over me and protects me every step of the way.

Some days are harder than others because I will always wonder if he is proud of me and if I am making him happy. I would give anything to hear his voice, give him a hug, see his smile I always love to see in pictures, or just to simply shake his hand – never take advantage of those little things people, they mean so much. But I also am blessed to have an amazing step dad who has done so much to shape me into who I am today.

Cover Image Credit:

Bailey Martin

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