Does being “strong and independent” mean being alone?

Strenght allows you to make intentional decisions about where, when, and to whom you choose to be vulnerable. Woman in a yellow shirt looking bold and intense.

Somewhere along the path to confidence and self-reliance, most of us start to feel this nagging dread: are we about to spend the rest of our lives alone?

We fear that being self-reliant is making us cold and hard.
We worry that we’re losing the ability to let others in.
We wonder if our independence is pushing others away.

Can we still ask for help? Can we still be vulnerable? How do we find the balance?

Being independent does not mean we refuse to open ourselves to others. When we build walls in this way, we create the foundations for more hurt in the future.

Our interior lives heal in much the same way as our physical bodies: when we experience an injury, the wounded area heals to be tougher than before. But if we don’t treat it properly, that toughness puts strain on the areas around it, leading to more injuries in the future. We need to be flexible or else we become brittle, prone to fracturing and tearing apart.

The healthy approach is to move through our lives with humility, gratitude, and love (for ourselves and for others).

We all have days when we’re not holding it together. That’s not being weak, that’s being human. Being strong doesn’t mean we are never vulnerable. Instead, it means we are intentional of how, when, and to whom we allow ourselves to be vulnerable: vulnerability is not our default state.

As children, we all learned to walk. Perhaps at the time we were so afraid our parents would leave us that we didn’t want to let go of their hands. But we did, and when we got older, holding their hands meant more because it was a choice we made out of love rather than one made out of fear and necessity.

We don’t want to bring people into our lives who need us to be weak in order for them to feel strong. Instead, we want those who want the best for us, who encourage us to be better than we are, and who are willing to come alongside us on the way.

#GoBoldly #A2Woman

Iris Proctor
Iris is the director of ArborWoman.