What it really means to be 'a strong independent woman'

Dear reader,

Everyone's heard of the phrase 'strong independent woman'. My bet is that at some point most women and maybe even some men have had someone tell them they are exactly that.

Particularly, I find, it is used when referring to someone's romantic endeavours - a quick snippet of cheer to make a friend feel better about a recent rejection or insecurity about being single. I have lost count of the amount of times my friends have given a spiel of very sage and useful advice and ended it with 'you are a strong, independent woman who don't need no man.' Usually accompanied with a nod, hand on hip or finger snap. I too have said it countless times to friends, without giving it much thought.

What exactly does it mean though? How do I be strong or independent when sometimes I feel like the way I act is the total opposite of that?

I am in no way an expert in the matter, nor do I think I can fully answer these questions, but here's what I've learnt so far:

Firstly, and most importantly, this phrase shouldn't really have anything to do with romance or men.
I have depended and still depend on many men in my life: my Dad, my boss, my brothers, co-workers, friends. It is ok to depend on other people....to an extent. The difference is that these men can depend on me too when they need me. I can also depend on all the women in my life and vice versa. Most importantly, I can depend on myself, I am independent. Believing you can actually do things is something I still struggle with, but importantly I see myself as an independent person who is not identifiable as adjacent to another person. Who I am is mine to mold and express.

Being a consistent person and supportive of those around you and again for yourself is what makes someone strong. Being emotional, sensitive or passionate does not detract from being strong. That is a horrific load of misinformation that sadly most girls and boys especially have ingrained into them. Being strong is about accepting your emotions and showing other's that expressing how you feel is brave and sometimes difficult. Let others see you as consistent and open. That, to me at least, is strong.

Ambition is part of it too. Having goals for yourself and wanting to do better and improve, as well as motivating yourself to get there is a tool for independence and internal strength. You want something? Go and get it. Don't be afraid of asking for help along the way, that is often a challenge for me and something that is necessary for success in life, but don't sit back and let others take credit for your achievements or indeed forget to give credit where it is due. it is important to appreciate others.

Get on with it. My mother has taught me many valuable lessons, but this mentality is probably the biggest thing I have in common with her. Sure, there are times where I moan and whine and drag my heels, and those moments are often the one's I am most ashamed about. Things don't get done by themselves and nobody can get things done precisely the way you visualize. Do it yourself and stop waiting for someone to swoop in. Of course, help is good, nobody can take the whole weight of the world on their shoulders - but don't wait for other people if there's something that needs doing.

Don't put people down or let people tell you how you have to live your life. Listen to everyone and adjust your opinions, take advice and give it where it is due, but letting someone dictate your capabilities or who you are is something nobody should stand for. Putting others down to reach your ambitions or just to boost your self esteem is not being strong, it is weak and cowardly. Empower those around you, inspire where you can, and be open to the unfamiliar. I definitely believe what comes around goes around, what you give is what you get.

On that note...know your worth. Know where your strengths are, know where your weaknesses are. Don't undersell yourself and be confident. Everyone has days where they think less of themselves or are insecure - don't let those days take away your value.

I could honestly go on and on ad infinitum about all of these points, but to save utter boredom, I shall leave it there. I hope I haven't missed anything too crucial and that maybe there are some things you can find you agree with

Hebe x


  1. Great post, Hebes! Very wise thoughts :) x

  2. I LOVE this. Particularly enjoyed the point you raised about dependence and how this doesn't detract from your independence as a woman, because the men in your life turn to you in times of need also. So important to remember xxx

    1. Thanks Lozza G,
      I think it's so easy to forget that you can create your own gender inequality by assuming that you depend on men but they don't depend on you. ALways have to remind myself that they need us just as much as we need them (if not more haha) xxx