Society is so hard on women who actually choose to recognise their worth: the skills and talents they’ve worked so hard to acquire, endorse and imbibe. In India especially, it’s almost a crime to be a woman and to be acknowledged for good work. But for a strong woman, the world is much larger than the limitations of her neighbourhood aunties’ predictions. She wakes up in the morning with only one calling—the one she makes to herself.
As author R. H. Sin puts it in perfect quirk: “The most dangerous woman of all is the one who refuses to rely on your sword to save her because she carries her own.”
The world is full of strong women taking charge of their own fates. Her strength isn’t a genetic gift that’s been passed on through the women in her family. She’s worked to the bone for it. Ask any woman labelled ‘strong’ by a unanimous call and she’ll tell you she’s moved heaven and hell to get here. But here she is. Unapologetic and unbending. Fiercely independent, inspired and inspiring. She doesn’t care about being liked or appreciated. Her power comes from within and her beauty—from deep inside her soul.
She knows that when she leaves her mark on the world, the stories around her will be about her unyielding grit and determination to see everything through till the finish mark. After all, she’s not one to leave anything half-hearted.
What defines a strong woman? How do strong women identify with one another?
Self-Reliance is a Tool
Indian women are conditioned to seek the approval of her parents and her overarching, usually dominating male relationships. But the only person whose approval she seeks, is her own. She is her own cheerleader. She’ll welcome support and care from others, but she doesn’t need it. Sometimes, this may make her appear cold, ‘self-absorbed’ and unapproachable. What she studies, who her friends are and even where she decides to work is scrutinized by everyone who believes it is their God-given right to make decisions for her. Yet, she knows that the final word—will be her own.
No Sharma Ji Ka Beta
The ‘Sharma ji ka beta’ euphemism has been a long-standing one in the Indian society; he is the mythical step ahead in the life of every Indian child. No matter that she almost topped her class, got into the best liberal arts college or scored a great job right out of graduation—the ghost of ‘Sharma ji ka beta’ will always lurk over her shoulder. But guess what? She couldn’t care less. That’s another thing about strong women. Their only competition…is themselves and they keep trying to do better than what they did previously.
Learn, Learn, Learn Everyday
Well yes, strong women do give off the impression that they think no end of themselves, she is actually humble enough to know that she has miles to go before reaching her full potential. Complacency bores and frustrates her, which is why she is bent on learning something new and growing every day. She doesn’t think she’s above everyone else, in fact she will listen to anyone she thinks she can learn something new from. Her agenda is to challenge herself and grow, every single day.
What’s her secret? She’s learned early on in life to be kind to herself, because more often than not, no one else will be. Striving to become the best version of herself can be a daunting way to live, and this is the only way she knows how to deal with it. A country like India doesn’t look favourably towards a young woman breaking tradition and making waves. Even in the 21st century, with women CEOs striving to shatter the glass ceiling, patriarchy often rears its ugly head and consciously or not—sets out to put her in her place. And so, she learns to have her own back, to be forgiving when the world is not and to be gentle with her emotions—high or low.
Dare to Dream
The world is her oyster and she knows it. She also knows that it won’t be easy. She knows that somewhere in the fringes of her world lie a cascade of condescending voices telling her she needs to start her family. Telling her that ten years from now, she’ll wake up on a cold bed and wish she’d done things differently. That her dreams and ambitions, would only get her so far. And…she blocks them out. A strong woman holds her ground and dares to fly. She knows what she wants and nothing comes in the way.
Yet, a strong woman isn’t a robot. She has a warm, beating heart filled with emotions. She loves her family, she’s a great friend and she’s ready with go-to advice if asked. Just because she’s strong, it doesn’t mean that she isn’t allowed a chink in her armour. She has her rough days with the blinders down and the blanket tucked high. But she doesn’t break. She’ll get up when she has to, but more importantly when she wants to. And then…she’ll never look back.
(Edited by Neha Baid)