18 Signs You’re A Strong, Independent Woman

Know yourself, know your worth.

“Here’s to strong women, may we KNOW them, may we BE them, may we RAISE them.” – Unknown

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on June 18, 2017.

Strong women are a gift to the universe. They help us live, learn, and grow. They shape who we are even if we don’t know them personally. Without them, we literally would not exist. Here’s to all the strong women out there – may we raise more girls to be brave, fearless, and proud like you.

1. You believe in yourself and others.

Though it may not always be inherently obvious, you know that you and your friends are capable of anything. You’re willing to encourage everyone and anyone who needs an extra push and when it comes to self-motivation, you’re willing to give it your best shot.

2. If the path is unclear, you’re willing to find another way.

Sometimes the rules aren’t clear, or they don’t make sense for everyone following them. You’re willing to think outside the box and find an alternative solution that will benefit everyone.

3. You’re more of a leader than a follower.

If you’re willing to find a way around the rules, you’re likely more of a leader than a follower. The world was built on strong, independent women, and we have no shame!

4. It’s more comfortable for you to do things your own way.

It’s not that you have a superiority complex or anything, but sometimes it’s more comforting to complete things the most efficient way possible (in your honest opinion).

5. You’re a role model to someone.

Even if it’s a neighbor, co-worker, a niece, or nephew, you matter to someone. Someone probably thinks you’re really cool even when you think you’re not looking so hot. Remember that you are always going to be #goals for someone.

6. You’re an emotional rock.

People come to you for help, whether it be emotional or physical. You offer a shoulder and stay strong for people who need you. It’s one of the traits that makes you so strong.

7. People rely on you.

Whether it be for money, work, friendship, or something else altogether; people rely on you. You’re dependable, and people know you won’t let them down. You’re an important person to know.

8. You’re passionate about whatever you do.

You put 100% dedication into everything you do, and people really value that. You know that the job isn’t done until you’ve seen it through to the end. You’re not afraid to do whatever you can to get to the finish line.

9. Honesty is something you value.

There is no strength in lying, in faking it, or in two-faced relationships. You know that honesty is important in every single endeavor. You set an honest precedent for everyone around you.

10. You ask for help when you need it.

Part of being strong is knowing how to ask for help. Being strong doesn’t mean carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders alone; it means knowing how to delegate and ask for help when you require it. A strong woman did not become strong without the help of other strong women.

11. You get shit done one way or another.

Even when you procrastinate something, you’re multitasking and getting work done. Even when you’re taking a break, you’re actively thinking about something else you have to work on. Finishing things isn’t a problem for you, no matter how much time you may need to finish them.

12. Even when you feel like you can’t pull yourself together, you do.

You know that tomorrow is a new day and everything will work itself out in the end. Even when it doesn’t work itself out, you figure something out and find a different way. You’re a perseverance expert when it comes to getting yourself together.

13. You test the limits.

Part of being a strong woman is breaking the bounds, changing the game, and making history. Whether it’s arguing for a pay raise, fight for equality, or something more personal, like escaping your comfort zone – there is no test to see how far you’ll go.

14. You empower other women, instead of putting them down.

You know that no strong woman became strong on her own. You empower and encourage other women instead of tearing them down. You stand with your fellow #strongwomen, and push them toward greatness.

15. No one needs to tell you how to live your life.

You are strong and independent! You don’t need anyone giving you directions or orders. You know this and refuse to accept those who attempt to order you around.

16. Sometimes you put others before yourself, but you still take care of yourself properly.

Part of being a strong person is knowing that there are others you either have to or want to take care of. Despite this, you still know how to engage in self-care. Without it, you know you won’t be strong enough to care for the others.

17. Even when you don’t feel strong, you hang in there for the people who need you.

Even on your worst days, you keep going. You’re not only someone who refuses to throw in the towel until everyone is safe and okay, but you’re also someone who makes sure everyone is comfortable and content before truly reeling it in for the day.

18. You know you’re a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need anyone to tell her otherwise.

Sometimes it’s not always obvious, but you know damn well that no one can undermine you. You know when you’re right and you know when you’re wrong even if you’re reluctant to admit it sometimes. You know when people are underestimating and undervaluing you. Know yourself, know your worth.

13 Phrases You Need To Stop Saying To Your Sensitive Friends

If there’s one thing sensitive people are, it’s this: completely aware.

“Everything changes once we identify with being the witness to the story, instead of the actor in it.” – Ram Dass

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on June 12, 2017.

Here’s to all the sensitive people who are tired of being shut down for “caring too much.” I’ve been told pretty much my entire life that I’m too sensitive. Anytime I express any sort of discontent or anxiety toward a situation, my family, friends, and surrounding peers do not hesitate to judge the way I react. When someone in your life is acting what you believe to be “too sensitive,” offer them a hand or a shoulder instead of invalidating their feelings. Here are 13 things to stop telling the sensitive people in your life, and what you can do to help instead.

1. “You need to calm down.”

If we’re upset over something seems irrational to you, do not stoop to invalidating our reactions instead of offering comfort. Different experiences evoke different emotions. Simply offer us an ear or a hand, and most of all, be there for us.

2. “You’re freaking out over nothing.”

It’s not ‘nothing’ just because you aren’t ‘freaking out.’ Our emotions are strong and often take the wheel of our reactions. No matter how small the situation may turn out to be, it has obviously affected us and you shouldn’t judge us for caring so much.

3. “I’m just not going to tell you anything anymore because you’re way too emotional.”

You know what the worse thing you can do to an already emotional person? Make them more emotional by not only invalidating their feelings but also exhibiting regret for having to deal with their sensitivity. If you are thinking of cutting back on communication, perhaps consider the sensitive person’s triggers and work diligently to avoid them unless absolutely necessary.

4. “Stop being so dramatic.”

Often people who are sensitive or over-sensitive are not acting dramatic to inconvenience you; they are simply so in tune with their environment and surroundings that they are adversely affected. Sensory overload is a real thing and telling a sensitive person that they’re being ‘dramatic’ is rude. Try re-centering the person by speaking gently to them, or perhaps find a way to remove them from the stressful environment.

5. “Just stop.”

If sensitive people could control their feelings and reactions toward certain things, they likely would. Sometimes we know why we react the way we do and sometimes we don’t. Do not be insensitive.

6. “Why do you care so much?”

Often times, we don’t know why we “care” so much, and sometimes it’s not even that we “care” at all; we are just very connected to our surroundings. Anything could affect us negatively, causing an influx of emotions, that may or may not be warranted. Instead of questioning the person, be present and tangible for their sake.

7. “You worry too much.”

Sensitivity to our surroundings is often something we cannot help but express. Anxiety and nervousness are common side effects to sensitivity and those are traits that are uncontrollable as well. Instead of ostracizing sensitive people, attempt to ask us if you can help in any way. Offer a distraction if possible.

8. “You’re making everything way more difficult than it needs to be.”

Sensitive people have a difficult time processing and handling their thoughts, moods and emotions sometimes. We “make” things difficult because our sensitivity is inconvenient and difficult. Sensitive people can become overloaded with simple tasks because they get ahead of themselves and overthink. You can appeal to the feelings of the sensitive person by offering a solution or an alternative to our problems. Believe me, as much as you’re feeling inconvenienced, we’re definitely the ones being troubled.

9. “It sounds like you just want attention.”

First of all, wanting attention isn’t a negative thing — some people need more attention when they’re not getting enough, and we shouldn’t judge them for it. There is no need to feel ashamed for wanting more attention. Second, sensitive people often feel the emotions of others and depending on the strength of the empathy, they may need more attention. There’s nothing wrong with that.

10. “The world doesn’t revolve around you.”

Not saying that you should neglect your own feelings and issues to focus on the sensitive person’s — if you’re feeling neglected in a friendship, definitely address this. However, sensitive people often experience emotional overload often — and while they may know how to handle it — everyone needs a little help sometimes. Remember to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask them to do the same for you.

11. “You overthink everything. Just suck it up and deal with it.”

If only it were that easy. Any situation could impact a sensitive person, whether it’s an apparent trigger or not. Something that seems irrelevant to you could feel like a tsunami to a sensitive person. As always, be courteous and be cooperative. Try to understand what the other person is thinking. Don’t brush them off.

12. “It’s all in your head.”

Maybe it is, but just because you can’t see what we’re struggling with doesn’t mean I’m not struggling. Do not erase people’s feelings. When someone says they’re struggling or they’re hurt, you don’t get to speculate and say that they aren’t. Offer yourself as a positive and tangible being or remove yourself entirely. Sensitive people often have enough doors leading to easy negativity — they don’t need a bridge to close and personal darkness as well.

13 . “You’re way too sensitive.”

If there’s one thing sensitive people are, it’s this: completely aware. At first, learning you are sensitive can be a trying journey, but people know their sensitivity like the back of their hands. Sensitive people are and will always be more in touch with their personal and environmental emotions than any other type of person. We know we’re “overreacting” in your eyes. We know we’re “inconveniencing” you. We know we’re “being difficult.” Despite all of this, we can’t change who we are or how we feel. Sensitive people often carry the weight of the world on their shoulders or at least the weight of the emotions of the world; they don’t need negative friends on top of that weight.

It’s Not Giving Up, It’s Stepping Back

Know that even if someone important to you does depart, that they may return. If they don’t, however, know that you’ll be just fine because you can stand on your own two feet.

What to realize when someone “leaves you” due to your mental illness.

This article was originally published for the The Odyssey on March 6, 2017.

We’ve all seen that picture that circulates the internet with a few words written on a photograph that reads, “Please don’t leave,” or “Please don’t leave me.” I’ve heard many people relay those same words to me as they beg me not to ‘leave them behind’ due to their mental illness. I wish they would realize that I’m not leaving them behind; I’m simply taking a breather. When someone ‘leaves’ you for reasons surrounding your mental illness, understand that they’re not giving up on you; they’re simply taking a step back.

Mental illness can be a very powerful and draining thing. Enduring it alone is difficult and many people believe they cannot survive without the support of others. This is true in some cases. The problem is that there will almost always be someone who ‘leaves’ due to the circumstances surrounding your mental illness, and you can’t give up just because that person is no longer around.

I don’t really like to use the word ‘leave’ or ‘leaves’ because I think that usually correlates with someone disappearing. Generally, you leave a place, not a person. You are not an object. You are not an island and your mental illness isn’t shark infested waters. A better word for your situation is likely ‘step back’ or ‘give in’. Giving up and leaving are generally not what a person does when they can no longer bear the weight of your mental illness.

Your demons are dark, no matter what kind they are and no matter where they originate from. They are dark and heavy on your soul. They try to eat you alive. That’s what creates depression, anxiety, and other types of mental illness. When a friend or family member that was once close to you decides to remove themselves from your life due to a circumstance surrounding your mental illness, it is not your fault. Let me repeat that: it is not your responsibility to keep someone from taking a step back.

Friendship is fluid. Family can even be fluid, though many don’t think so. Demons are scary and powerful. They will try to drag anyone and everything down with them into the pits of darkness. They are incredibly toxic. When someone close to you forfeits their relationship with you, it’s because they’re trying to get as far away from those evil demons as they can.

Many of us shoulder our own demons, and if someone takes a step back from their relationship with you, it’s likely due to the fact that they cannot handle both your demons and their own.

It feels personal, but I promise, in a real friendship or a real, genuine relationship, it isn’t. Friends are not generally equipped to handle those types of things. They aren’t registered therapists or psychiatrists, and no matter how many times they lend you an ear, they simply aren’t trained to help you in the way you require.

Understand that those who can no longer face your demons are not giving up, they’re taking a step back. In the bargain that is their mental health and your relationship, they will and should put their mental health first. Just as you aren’t to blame for your mental illness, you’re not to blame for your friends departing.

As long as you have not hurt those friends or family members on purpose, or manipulated them in any way to get what you wanted, you are not the problem. If you genuinely did not hurt someone and they step back, it is not personal. Know that, however, if there was manipulation and ill-feelings involved, that your relationship may not return, and sometimes that’s for the better. It is not someone else’s job to fix you. It is their job to hold your hand while you fix yourself.

Think of your relationships as one of those bridges that lifts up its ends to allow the ships to pass through. The ships represent time. You and that person are just lifting up your sides of the bridge. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to, the bridges cannot pass through if you do not lift your side up. Many ships will pass through. Sometimes, even after the ships have passed, your friend may not wish to put their side of the bridge back down. That’s okay, too. Sometimes it’s not meant to be.

After realizing the reason for your relationship’s hiatus, you have to remember that you are not alone, no matter how lonely you feel. Everyone has to put their mental health first, but that doesn’t mean that yours no longer matters. Your mental health and mental illness are just as important as anyone else’s. Know that you cannot give up just because someone you care about took a step back. You have to take a stand up for yourself and fight tooth and nail for your life. If life was meant to be easy, we’d all live forever.

You have to learn to be your own anchor. You have to prop yourself up and fight against all the negativity coming at you. Be your own ray of sunshine, and perhaps you’ll be a ray of sunshine for others too. You are meant to be here. You have a purpose even if you haven’t realized it just yet. If you weren’t meant to be on this Earth, the Universe would have picked you off long ago.

You are meant to be here to change the world, even if it’s someone’s world. Realizing that will help you in your process of healing. Know that even if someone important to you does depart, that they may return. If they don’t, however, know that you’ll be just fine because you can stand on your own two feet. You are strong. You will always be strong. Continue to be strong, if not for anyone but yourself. No one can drag you down but you, remember that. You are your own anchor.

Take It From Me: Deleting Toxic People Is So Important

However, when you realize you’re stuck in a messy and bad relationship, it can be difficult to end things or escape.

“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.” – Robert Tew

This article was originally posted on The Odyssey on May 30, 2016.

Relationships can be tricky sometimes. When it’s good, it’s good, with problems that can be solved in a mature way and memories you’ll never want to forget. However, when you realize you’re stuck in a messy and bad relationship, it can be difficult to end things or escape. If you are confident in your self-worth and know attempting to fix something broken is a waste of time, this article probably does not apply to you. This article right here is for those who aren’t quite sure how to delete toxic people and break out of a toxic relationship. In this article, I will discuss my journey with toxic relationships, how I was able to escape them, and how others should go about deleting toxic people from their lives.

When I was a junior in high school, I became involved with a plethora of people that had all sorts of problems. I was that friend that everyone always went to for advice or to vent. I thought that this was a good thing at the time, and I thought it meant that people trusted me and depended on me. That is, until I realized that they were doing more than depending on me, but rather, leaning on me. They were latching onto me, asking me to fix their problems, not help them fix the problems by themselves. They were clinging to me for survival.

I began to feel very worn down all the time and feel extremely bad about myself. I entered what my parents thought was a phase, but was me feeling like I had let down every single person I had ever known. My friends would act happy and free when we would hang out, and the minute they went home, they would post something negative or dangerous online, which only gave me anxiety about their safety. I didn’t know where to turn. I thought telling my parents would be violating the trust bestowed upon me and asking for help from other friends would only betray those suffering. Any time that I had attempted to help a depressed friend, I felt like I was the only one trying to save them. If I didn’t succeed in making my friends smile or laugh, I thought that perhaps they would self-harm later and the blame would be on me, for not being good enough at helping them.

If I wasn’t able to succeed in “helping them,” I would instantly feel as though my self-worth was equal to zero. I felt as though I did not deserve to live because I could not even be there to help my friend who was on the verge of ending everything. I wasn’t trying to help them, simply because they weren’t asking for help. I was trying to fix them, to cure them, because they made me feel like I was the only one who possibly could. Those friends put me under a spell that I could not break, and so I fell into the negativity cycle that made me consider ending my own life.

Thankfully, I was able to overcome that consideration and realize that my life is valuable. I was lucky. I know others do not have the same luck that I do. Toxic people are like leeches; they will latch onto you and try to take you down with them. It’s not always intentional, and sometimes they are oblivious to the pain they put you through. While this explains the terrible way they treat you, it does not excuse it.

During this terrible year of high school, I was faced with several toxic relationships, that I dug a hole deeper into every time I was unable to fix a friend’s issues. Sometimes the separation you require from a toxic person is easy; sometimes all it takes is one last straw to be broken, and you decide that you are finished with all the negativity. Other times, it is excruciatingly difficult. Manipulative people will always try to rope you back into the situation, no matter how many times you try to leave. They will make you think that you are the problem and that everything is your fault. They will try and trick you into staying and continue to serve them. I am telling you now, right here, that you are not the problem.

Finally, I realized that I could not possibly help the toxic person and that they were beyond my help. We as people are not built to fix other people. We are built to hold other’s hands while others figure out how to fix themselves. We are built to support other people while they embark on the journey of recovery. Asking someone to be your only crutch in this world is not only selfish but harmful for both of you. Support systems should always be made up of more than one person. One person will not be able to handle the pressure, the overbearing anxiety, or the disappointment that often accompany recovery.

If you find yourself in a toxic relationship of any kind, whether it be a romantic or sexual relationship, a friendship, or literally any other kind of negative relationship, know that you are better than that, and you deserve better than that. Know that there are so many people willing to help you, and lend a hand. Remember that you are never alone, no matter how many times you fall down, fail, and don’t feel like getting back up again. You can get back up again, and you will.

I cannot tell you how difficult it was to cut off and delete all the toxic people in my life. I am going to be a sophomore in college and I am still in the process of it. Toxicity is sneaky, it will hide behind the nicest smile, the most soothing hug. The minute you start feeling like you are the only one responsible for someone else’s life, mental health, and safety, is the minute you need to wake up and realize that you are not in a healthy relationship.

All relationships should maintain positivity, happiness and love. Even through all the bad stuff, you should never have the fear of having someone’s blood on your hands for something you could not possibly fix. Mental illness does not disappear with love. Mental illness is something that needs to be survived by an entire team of people, supporting and encouraging baby steps of success. Toxic people often bloom under the duress of their mental illness and tend not to operate under the love and positivity aspects one would usually expect from a healthy relationship.

Sometimes it is not their fault, and like I said, they are not always aware. Remember that if you are unable to handle someone’s mental illness and the anxiety of the whole situation, you are not a failure or a quitter. Mental illness is hard, and if it begins to affect you negatively, you know it is time to leave. The other person may hate you for leaving. They may not understand, and they may try to put you down in any such way that they can. If this is the case, just hope that one day they understand why you left. If you find yourself bereft of hope, remember that you did not give up, you just let go.

While the deletion of toxic people is a long and emotional process, the aftertaste of freedom is amazing. The weight that will be lifted off of your shoulders will be extreme. You may not know who you truly are without that toxic person and you may get lost finding your way back to yourself, and that is absolutely OK. There are many bad people out there in this world, but believe me when I say that there are so many, if not more, good people out there as well. You deserve to be free, happy and healthy.

If you feel that you are anxious or depressed as I once felt, I encourage you to reach out to someone for help. Just as that toxic person should not have depended solely on you, you should not depend solely on yourself or another. Life is precious, and we were all put on this Earth for a reason. I believe that we were all put on this Earth to change the world in some way, shape, or form. Whether it be on a large scale, or simply changing someone’s world, you are here to make a change, so before you think about ending your life, remember that there is an entire world out there with an infinite amount of possibilities willing to help you make that change. Remember to put yourself first. You deserve it.

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