I recently talked to my one of my friends about something I feel has been a new, extra pressure for women to be.
Of course, women have always been pressured to be something - a good mother, good spouse, hard worker, kind, not too "emotional", beautiful, have a certain body type...the list goes on and on.
But recently, I am finding a new pressure...to be strong.
I often see and hear men and women celebrating other women for their strength.
I'm sure at this point in the post, you are thinking..."Um, Eva...what is so wrong with that?"
Well, nothing at all.
Women are already strong and amazing, simply for who they are but it adds to a new set of pressure that we must also be this way outwardly and in the ways that you would expect to see strength.
Being independent, doing things yourself, not needing no man or woman to help you.
And don't get me wrong, these are all amazing qualities. But not all of us are like that, including me.
So until last week, I wouldn't describe myself as very strong.
Physically, I am just not literally strong. I am not one for pain and have minimum patience for discomfort. I can't really carry anything too heavy, and because of said low patience for pain, certain types of exercise and I don't exactly see eye to eye.
Emotionally, I wouldn't consider myself very "strong" either. It doesn't take much for me to start crying. Ask any of my friends, they all have a story of a time that I got hurt and how IMMEDIATELY, tears streamed down my face.
2 weeks ago I cried at the thought of my husband not being around one day.
I almost randomly cried when I saw Margot Robbie clapping for Allison Janney as she won an Oscar. I didn't even see I, Tonya!
Last week, I cried when I simply saw my friend's son because he looked so damn cute.
I could cry at the thought of this one scene in How I Met Your Mother.
Don't get me started on This Is Us or Grey's Anatomy *although these instances are super normal and to be expected*
I think you get the point - I am a crier!
So on #InternationalWomensDay, I told my friend this and she responded by saying something so profound for me, it has completely turned my thoughts around.
You see, she told me that strength appears in ways we don't always expect. She told me being able to talk about your feelings and being open about them, that is strong because not a lot of people can do that.
She told me that sticking up for what you believe in and having a strong opinion about that - that shows strength in compassion and in supporting what you care about.
And so here we are, me talking to you about my feelings because if I'm being honest, I am not feeling very strong.
I'm having a small quarter-ish life/professional crisis.
I am feeling challenged as I continue on my journey to embrace Intuitive Eating & Health at Every Size in not only my professional life as a Registered Dietitian, but also within my personal life.
It's hard because there are two worlds I see - the one is where people just GET it and they practice it and do an amazing job sharing this important message with others and are so eloquent in their defense of and explanation of it, that it's hard not to compare myself to them or feel frustrated that I'm just not 100% there yet.
And on the other hand, there is the world that is stuck in the mindset of diets, weight shaming, body image and the number on the scale defining our worth as humans.
This transition has been mostly challenging for me because I want to know this area the best I can because it is so different from what we are taught and what many people expect from us, as dietitians. So when there is backlash, I get easily flustered and start to second guess myself because it's just not all figured out for me yet.
I think you get the point. It's a process right now and that's hard. But I am so close, I can feel it and I know it's going to all be worth it.
So...why am I tell you all of this?
Well, because I am about to tell you what really makes me feel strong.
I feel strong because I know that I can always ask for help.
I've reached out to 3 dietitians for help with this. I am even meeting one tonight to help me through my personal and professional goals in learning about this topic. Because what makes me strong is knowing that change is something I have control over and for me, asking for help has always proven to be most beneficial. I am a talker, and talking through things helps me.
So remember that, you are strong no matter what. You might have strength in your independence, or your empathy for others, or for your work ethic, or simply because you are just a great friend and person to be around. What makes you, you is what is strong and amazing.
Even if compared to the atrocities of the world, despite having the benefit of certain privileges, having your health, a roof over your head, food on the table, you still find yourself feeling sad, lonely, insecure or however you may be feeling...know that it's okay to feel how you feel. Own it and work on it. Maybe even consider asking for help because the sooner you feel better, the sooner you can make those around you feel better. You never know who could maybe use your help too.
Lastly, I'll leave you with this.
Know your strengths, do things that help you embrace them and surround yourself with people who will celebrate you when you're feeling less than strong. Do the work, because I promise, it'll make you more present and appreciative in your life so you can do better for others. At least that's all I really want...to get out of my own head so I can help people.
Finally, don't forget to pay attention to the things happening around you, near and far. Look for ways to see how you can continue to serve others because that too, can help get you out of your own head and together, our strength will combine to make the world a better place.
Lots of LOVE & strength,
P.S. all the amazing food in the post is from my delicious experience at A Mano in Philadelphia, PA. Go there, get the Pappardelle all'Amatriciana.
Seriously, do it.