Let me start by saying that I’m UK based, which means I’m not hugely entitled to an opinion on Stateside politics apparently. The third presidential debate has stirred something up inside of me though, because one thing has become pretty damn obvious recently.
Huge amounts of people do not like strong women
I, like a lot of other strong women out there I imagine, am not strong out of choice, I’m strong through circumstance. I’m a survivor of so much sh**, that it must seem as though I’ve made up half my life. One of my lovely friends, who I met through antenatal class seven years ago, said this to me early on in our friendship.
“You’re like Phoebe from Friends!”
What she meant of course was that every time I shared a snippet from my past it sounded incredulous, as it does to me when I dredge up certain memories. Especially the deep dark secrets, and I think to myself, did those things really happen to me?
Did I really leave home at fifteen, fend entirely for myself, get myself mentally stable, recover from rock bottom, then go on to not just live an average life, but live a pretty awesome one? You can read more about that in my book if you wish to do so.
I sometimes wonder how on earth I managed to get myself from there to here. How did I pull off bagging myself a wonderful husband, and having three gorgeous kids? Do I really get paid to write? I mean wow, how many of us get to work in our dream job?
I didn’t get from there to here because I took the easy road, far from it. I’ve never taken the easy road, and nor do I intend to start doing so. I got this life because I’ve worked damn hard for it. Through being a strong woman. Through going against convention every step of the way, and sticking two fingers up to the haters in the process. Like other strong women, I don’t quit.
Hope I’m still not offending you?
If chauvinistic pigs like Trump had his way, I’d have stayed in the gutter as a teenager. I would never have been exposed to the opportunities that created my lucky breaks. After being bullied and abused for much of my childhood, I would have been so beaten down by life that I would have known my place, and not had the audacity to venture from it.
You see, I’ve rolled with the punches since I was a little girl. I was exploited so many times, and in so many ways, mostly by older men, when I was younger, that I’ve blocked a lot of it out.
I estranged myself from my entire family in the name of self-preservation. I’ve been through business failure, bankruptcy, mental breakdown. When the going gets tough, I put on my fight face and ‘girl up’. I try and set a good example to my children, and always strive to find solutions to family challenges.
Above all else, I’m not afraid to look inwards, and recognise when I’m the cause of the problem. When this happens (as it did recently), I change the necessary, and put measures in place to stop small things escalating. I never ever bury my head and hope that things will magically improve all by themselves. I grew up around adults who did this, and I’ve got to tell you, it didn’t get them very far.
The trouble is, strong women are easy to dislike
We don’t dwell on our shortcomings, and share our successes. We try and remain positive in the face of adversity. We look so in control, and always appear to have the answers. These things can make others feel bad about themselves, but as Eleanor Roosevelt wisely said, no-one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
I don’t know much, but I do know that the world needs more strong women. Ones who will volunteer for the messy work when it needs to be done. Ones who’ll stand up to the bullies who try and put them down.
Us women need to be strong. For ourselves, for our families and for the sisterhood.
My name is Reneé, I’m a survivor of life and will not apologise for being a strong woman.
Whose with me?