As we enter 2016, it's only natural to reflect back on the previous years of our lives. For some, the past is filled with memories of marriage, children, career growth and building a stable, comfortable lifestyle. For others, however, the past is filled with failed relationships, broken friendships, various places you've called home and a slew of new beginnings.
As I reflect on the previous years leading up to 2016, it's apparent that I fall into the second category mentioned above. Sometimes, I feel like a ping-pong ball, being whooshed back and forth by two brown paddles. I anxiously wait to land on the table below, yet at 28 years old I can't seem to manage that just yet.
And while stability in life is certainty appealing, I feel that all of the life experiences I've had thus far have only made me stronger. Moving from place to place, falling in and out of love, being independent and making things happen has only built me up and strengthened my soul. As a result, I'm familiar with the experiences strong women go through.
Here are 10 examples:
1. Love and let go.
A strong woman knows what it feels like to grow close to someone and then let go of them. At first, the feeling of losing someone you love is devastating. You think, "How will I ever go on without this person in my life?" A strong woman finds a way, however, to move forward. She understands that life still goes on, even after that lover or friend is no longer a part of her life. A strong woman learns how to let another person go, and it becomes easier each time due to the independence and courage she has built up over the years.
2. Take risks.
A strong woman isn't afraid of doing what she thinks is best at the time. She will move away to another city in the midst of war and start a new life for herself. She will not worry about what lies ahead, because she is a risk-taker. A strong woman is so self-assured that she knows the risk is worth taking, and that everything will work out the way it's supposed to in the end.
3. Pick yourself up after you fail.
A strong woman isn't afraid of failure, because she has experienced it before. She has started something that required time and effort and did not succeed; yet she always manages to get back on her feet again and start over. A strong woman has lost a job, a loved one and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, yet she manages to overcome the failure and rebuild herself.
4. Move away from your parents.
A strong woman knows what it's like to leave home early on. She knows what it feels like to wave goodbye to her mother and father and board a plane to a country all the way across the world. She knows how to take care of herself, even when her family is so far away. A strong woman understands the value of her parents and family even more once she returns.
5. Venture outside your comfort zone.
A strong woman has entered a crowded room without knowing a single soul and been able to walk around like she owns the place. A strong woman realizes the importance of putting yourself out there in a new city, new country, new job, new relationship, etc. A strong woman will come out with new friends and experiences that will last a lifetime.
6. Find comfort in solitude.
A strong woman is familiar with people coming and going. She is happy when she's surrounded by people, yet remains comfortable when she finds herself alone in her room at night. At first, she is sad, yet she knows that solitude is only temporary.
7. Experience war.
A strong woman has experienced war. She has heard the sirens go off; she has seen people run to shelters to seek safety; she has looked in the sky when rockets were being intercepted above, like fireworks exploding in a sea of black. She has seen the look of fear on a mother's face when she knows her children are in danger. War has only made her stronger, and helped her value life even more.
8. Conquer your worst fears.
A strong woman has fears, just like everyone else. However, she understands that fears can be irrational and that they must be conquered in order to overcome them. A strong woman gets on the airplane even if she doesn't want to; she moves far away from home because she knows it will only help her grow; she has entered the ICU to visit a sick parent even though she is scared to see what's waiting behind the doors.
9. Push your body.
A strong woman knows her body well. She understands that exercise will make her stronger. She breathes, she stretches, and she eats well, all because she knows that it's good for her health and longevity in the end.
10. Dream big.
Finally, a strong woman always dreams big. She wants to make something of herself and be the best she can possibly be. She wants to accomplish many things and manages to do so, little by little. She doesn't tell herself "no," or that "it's not possible." A strong woman believes in herself and strives to achieve her goals. A strong woman knows no limits.
Yes, at times I feel like that ping-pong ball, being tossed back and forth, just waiting to land on solid ground. Yet I know that my experiences in life have only made me stronger. As we enter 2016, I'm proud to be a strong, independent, free-spirited woman.