Strong vs. Tough

Pictured here:  the most DELICIOUS French toast from Scratch in Norman. If I were a tough woman, perhaps I could have turned these bad boys down. But, fortunately, I’m not. And I enjoyed Every. Last. Bite. Toughness was the discussion over brunch...specifically, what does it mean to be a strong woman versus a tough woman?

french toast.jpg

Toughness is something our culture encourages pretty heavily. The “rub some dirt on it” mentality is becoming pretty prevalent in society, and really, it sounds pretty enticing…empowering, even.

“I got this on lock down.”
“Nailed it”
“It ain’t no thang”

…these are things I say ALL THE TIME (just imagine it with a little bit of swag, and you’ll get it). It’s as if we’re ashamed to admit that there could possibly be any doubt or fear or insecurity even remotely on our radar. Emotion is somehow a sign of weakness, and tears are certainly something to hide.


We don’t always have it together. We aren’t always a composed little package. Instead, sometimes, we are like an overstuffed suitcase. It’s like this:  you’re getting ready for a trip and you’ve packed your suitcase WAY TOO FULL (we’ve all been there…it’s only a weekend, but who knows what the weather will be like?!). So, you’ve got two options:  1.) sort through your stuff and figure out what you really need to pack, or 2.) Sit on it until it zips.

SO MANY TIMES we just prefer to sit on our own emotional suitcases instead of unpacking some of that unnecessary weight. We carry things around like jealousy and anger and resentment or fear or sadness or even fearlessness (I’m invincible!) What a heavy, heavy burden to carry by ourselves.

I’m not saying there isn’t a time or a place for toughness. Mental toughness, for example, during a race or tough workout, or in the face of a natural disaster or sickness is appropriate and necessary for us to keep functioning and solve problems. However, if that toughness, that stoicism, lingers, we’ve got a problem.

Some of you readers probably don’t know that not too long ago, I called off my engagement to my then long-time boyfriend (that’s a story for another time). So, I've sort of been redefining my life since then. Over these last few months, I’ve really learned a lot about myself –what I’m capable of, and what I’m not. Perhaps the most notable is that I am not as tough as I thought.

But I am strong.

I’m learning that a strong woman is a woman who can accept her emotions, not as burdens but as useful tools to uncovering truth. She can look her emotions in the eye and see right to their souls—she can put a name on them: jealousy, fear, rejection, loneliness…and then, she can respond appropriately, instead of letting them get the best of her. A strong woman bucks the norm. She doesn't neglect the feelings that come naturally to her, and she doesn't let society say she’s weak because she feels.

Women, specifically, were created as emotional beings—we are natural caretakers that have amazing empathy for others, and an incredible ability to immerse ourselves into the lives of others. So why do we find the idea of exploring our own emotions so appalling? This week, I’m determined to cut myself a little slack, and start loving my emotions instead of hating them. I’m unpacking my bags and letting my guard down. Join me, won’t you?