Being a strong, independent woman doesn’t necessarily require that you be a die-hard feminist. Rather, it means learning to express who you are at your core, whether you are shy and soft-spoken or loud and assertive, without trying to fit a certain mold implied by your being a female. Read this article to learn how to undo this type of societal preconditioning and be the woman you are, whoever that may be.
Part 1 of 2: Undoing Negative Social Conditioning
Don’t compare yourself to other women. While there is nothing wrong with having a female role model to look up to, constantly feeling jealous of other women will leave you feeling horrible about yourself. Though jealousy is natural to some degree, western society tends to exacerbate female jealousy through advertisements and films that feature unrealistic standards of beauty. The result is a culture of women who feel insecure and unhappy with their own bodies.
- The first step to overcoming jealousy is to recognize when you are experiencing it. If you find yourself reading a magazine and comparing your own body to those of the models, take a moment to remind yourself that a) these women are paid to look the way they do, and many of them lead very unhealthy lives to maintain their figures, and b) the camera really does add weight; women who look “perfect” in magazines or in movies usually look gaunt in real life.
- Try not to compare your own negative qualities with other women’s positive qualities. Every woman has her own best assets, whether it is her breasts, her legs, her arms, her eyes, her hair, or her butt. Let go of trying to have it all, and appreciate what you do have.
Don’t base your happiness on being in a relationship. Having a man (or woman) to love should enhance your life, not define it. No matter how bad you may think you need a relationship, you must first learn to love yourself before you can even begin to love somebody else.
- If you are already in a relationship, be sure you have other things going on in your life outside of the relationship, whether it is school, work, friends, a fitness routine, or your family.
Don’t feel obligated to follow fashion trends. Being an independent woman means dressing the way you want, regardless of what people around you are telling you to wear. Use fashion as a way to express your mood, your taste, and your creativity.
- Remember that there’s a reason why designers use 90-pound models on their runways: not everything that is en vogue is figure-flattering. When deciding what to wear, you should take into account your body type as well as your personal taste.
- There’s nothing wrong with being fashion-forward, but don’t force yourself to keep up with trends that you don’t like or that don’t look good on you. If you enjoy keeping up with the trends, then learn how to make them work for you by putting your own personal spin on them.
Part 2 of 2: Expressing Yourself
Stay educated. Being educated not only gives you the skills and knowledge you will need to pursue your career, it also makes you more well-respected by the people you encounter in your life. Your level of education (whether formal or informal) reflects your intelligence and shows others that you care about things other than your own personal life.
- Remember that not all education has to be formal (i.e. attained through an institution like a university). Keep up with current events in politics, science and technology, read books (both fiction and non-fiction), learn another language, watch documentaries, and so on.
Stand up for yourself. Whether you are a man or a woman, you will have to learn to fend for yourself in the real world if you want to avoid being taken advantage of. You must learn how to stand up for yourself at school, at work, and in your social life.
- Let people know when they have wronged you. If somebody betrays you in any way, be sure to let him or her know. This will prevent the person from repeating the behavior in the future.
Take care of your body. Personal strength is manifested physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you want to be a strong, independent woman, you need look no further than your own body.
- Exercise for 1 hour every single day. You don’t have to be an Olympic champion to be in good shape; go for a jog around the neighbourhood, take your dog for a walk, or go for a bike ride. Staying in shape improves your overall health, your mood, and your energy levels, which will improve your performance in all aspects of your life. Also maintain a healthy diet.
Manage your finances. If you want to be truly independent, you must learn how to pay for your own life so that you don’t have to rely on other people. Spend your money wisely, and avoid wasteful or frivolous expenditures.
- Prioritize your spending. Your top priorities should be on your basic necessities like food, shelter, and clothing. Things like expensive clothes, concerts, and vacations are luxuries. Learn how to differentiate between necessities and luxuries.
Give to others. One of the best ways you can exert your strength is to give back to those who are less fortunate than you. You don’t have to be rich or affluent to make a positive impact in your community, so start small.
- Consider volunteering at a non-profit organization in your community. Identify what issues you are most passionate about. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, your local SPCA, or other community development program.
- Practice random acts of kindness. You don’t have to become a formal volunteer to give back. If you see somebody in need, then help them. Even as small an act as helping somebody carry boxes can brighten up his or her day.