A Strong Personality

If someone were to come up to you and say you had a strong personality, how would you respond?

If you’re a woman, my guess is that you would not say thank you. Somewhere along the line, ‘strength’ in a female personality became a pejorative term. I have been called a ‘strong personality.’

But what does that mean?

I have spent a lot, a lot of my life trying to be less of that strong personality- less intimidating, less overbearing. And in all truth, much of my journey has been a good one. I have come through a lot of anger, a lot of bitterness, and a lot of blaming and I have worked on my own ‘stuff.’ One friend describes me as a much “softer” person than I used to be.

But here’s the thing- after all that work, after all those tears, after all the changing I’ve done- it doesn’t feel like enough. Though I feel like I’ve recognized, repented, and restructured my life, it’s not enough. I still feel a pull that is telling me I’m too strong, too loud, too colorful, too opinionated, too confident, even too tall. But why?

Is it wrong that I feel comfortable in leadership positions?
Is it a problem that I can hold my own on the basketball court?
Is it selfish that I pursue my dreams and career goals?
Is it threatening that when I have an opinion I voice it?
Is it a crime if I believe I have self-worth?
Is it my fault that my talents cause you to feel insecure about yours?

I’m tired of trying to be something that I’m not. Tired of trying to hide my talents so I won’t outshine others. Tired of talking quieter because I’m afraid of offending someone. Tired of filtering my opinion because I know you’d rather I had none.

Many women have been stripped of voice, stripped of confidence, stripped of any God-given strengths. Is it better that I lie low not to stand out, or that I become that voice, that confidence, that strength that so many of my sisters have been denied? I don’t know, maybe my strong personality will be a beacon to them on the hopeless horizon that has become their lives. Maybe we can learn to be strong together.

I want to be strong and loud- want to dance when I feel like it, speak when I have something to say, lead when I know the way. I’d like to see what people would say then.

Certainly, they wouldn’t have the audacity to call me strong.

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58 thoughts on “A Strong Personality

  1. I love this so much, it feels like your words are coming straight from my heart. I glad that another person feels like me. I also tried to tone down and hide some of my bold character so that I don’t “scare people”. But I am a strong woman, not timid, not meek, I am very passionate and I stand up for what I believe, and some of my brest friends let envy destroy our bond. I am a lover, fighter and protector. If I were not strong, I would have been overcome and defeated by some of the challenges I have faced in my life.

    Thank you for this

    1. I’m just now reading this article in 2016, and you just sumed my whole life. The right people that deserves to be in our lives will accept us the way that we are.

    2. I know exactly what you mean. Some of my friends let envy destroy our bond too but as a strong minded woman; I think oh well. Their loss; not mine. Theirs plenty of more people to go around who will appreciate a little of my strongness if not all.

  2. Just BEAUTIFUL !!!! Stong indeed you are. I am often look down for speaking my mind, heart and soul and not sugar coating the truth when it needs to be said

  3. wow. although im a guy , i was told i have a strong personality as well . i too was confused . but i want to hang this on my wall. because im tired of trying to dumb down my personality for those around me because i dont want to make them feel a sense of uncomfort. this article made me take a look at myself . a positive one . it makes me want to become more confident in my thoughts & opinions.

    1. Exactly! I am a woman and I vow never to dumb myself down or to think less of myself just to make someone else feel more superior or better about themselves in a way that it makes me feel like now I’m the insecure one when I was the secure one all along. Sheesh

  4. Great article! A strong personality is what I always wanted. Needed, to be more precise. People say I’m an asshole because I have a good heart. They say it’s not worth being so nice if all you get is abuses. Deep inside I agree. I always think that if I had a “strong personality”, even people wouldn’t have that courage to call me an asshole. You are blesses, Krista! 🙂

  5. I stumbled upon this post after two men in one week said I had a “Strong Personality.” It was unclear whether this was meant as an insult or a compliment. I was confused. All the women I know are equally assertive, have opinions and aren’t afraid to voice them. Who are these guys comparing us to, I wondered. Am I that different? If so, it is bad? Are these guys used to women “dumbing” themselves down around them or something? These weren’t even lively debates or anything, just regular chatting. I’m absolutely certain that if I were a man having the same conversation they would not have thought, “Wow, what an assertive man. He really has an opinion!” Why are men still surprised when a woman doesn’t shrink under his gaze?

  6. Recently someone said I had a strong personality, and said it is not a bad thing , it is just who you are..left me confused…this article is perfect, thank you for posting it.

  7. I have been told I have a strong personality. Doesn’t seem to make you too popular. Some people are intimidated by me. I, too, have tried, with no success, to change. My youngest daughter is just like her mother. I love her drive, her zeal, her spirit. Other people seem to like it at this point, too. She’s just 14. I can see some areas where she needs to change, but I think it is sort of a package deal. Bill Gothard has said that our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses.

    1. I completely agree with Gothard. I am constantly looking at where my strengths turn into weaknesses- trying to honor the person God created me to be, while at the same time changing those things that keep me from being close with others.

    2. Yes! Being “strong” can be both a blessing and a curse. There have definitely been times when I’ve struggled to contain my personality. Sometimes being outspoken is not the ideal response. It can be difficult to reign it in when you have something to say, but I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes discretion is needed. Life is all about growth and recognizing where we need revision is an important part of the process.

      1. Yes, Alicia, I agree. Part of my journey has been learning when I do need to be more gentle or to step back and allow another person to step up…it is always a process.

  8. I thank you for posting this. I just had a conversation like this, and I also want to just be myself. I think we should just throw caution to the wind and be ourselves.

  9. I admire your “strong” personality. I have so many of the same struggles … I appreciate your clarity in asking them, and I especially appreciate your comment “filtering” my opinion. I so appreciate your support in my own personal growth in authenticity.

  10. Yesterday I was reminded again of this blog when I was working with a group of horses. There is always one boss mare – horse people the world over know what a ‘herd mare’ is. This ‘herd mare’ kept running off another horse I needed to catch and work with.

    Later, when I was sharing my struggles with Fred, I called her an “old beoch”. I complained to Fred about how hard she had made what should have been a simple job. He said, with a grin, that she was like me.

    That hurt my feelings initially, cuz I felt like he called me an old “beoch” … using my mouth! But, in looking back (with a “grace” filter!) I could see his point.

    How can I be strong yet not pushy? For years I tried to keep my socially unacceptable strength under wraps, mostly because I didn’t know how to control it. After stuffing it, I would get angry and feel invisible. I have lived so many years in an all or nothing state. Whenever my strength did surface, it seemed to flow out in excess – sometimes for good, sometimes … not so much.

    Thanks to the many, many groups I have sat through, I have learned much about how to be honest (and safe). I have found comfort and support in such an environment and, also counsel. Best of all, I have learned through the sharing that my strength was okay. I persevere in working on finding that balance between using my strength to protect my boundaries and serving those I love with gentleness..

    I continue to look to others for support and encouragement, as well as accountability! My hope is that I shall, one day, be strong and gentle; authentic…true to the woman God created me to be.

    1. I forgot to add; herd mares are usually good problem solvers, strong, and more persistant than the rest of the herd. In Fred’s defense, he always picks the herd mare to ride. They make a great partner!

      1. Diane, I love to hear you share parts of your journey and how you are learning to trust yourself! I have loved getting to know you and watch you grow in both grace and strength.

  11. Today someone really hurt my feeling at work saying that I was just too much and I honestly came home and felt really bad about myself and thought that I really was too strong for other people. After reading this I am reassured that the problems other people have with me are from a lack of their own confidence and possible jealousy. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hang in there Jen. I think we’ve all got to learn to shrug this stuff off. Honestly, there’s really no way to win at this game anyway. If we’re quiet and introverted we’re criticized for being “meek” and if we’re too outspoken we’re (again) criticized for being too “strong.” I, for one, am tired of letting virtual strangers dictate how we’re supposed to express ourselves. The way I see it, as long as we’re remaining kind and considerate to others, we need to cut ourselves some slack. Next time that person says you’re “too much,” maybe you should remind them that it’s better than being “not enough.”

  12. And it’s not only true for ladies… I’m a man and I share what is said. Many men think they are strong when they have a heavy fist and strong chin. But my experience tells me they are the weakest when the real strength is called off.

    1. Absolutely. I really appreciate your male perspective, Alex. Thanks for visiting, I’d love t hear more from you in the future!

  13. WOW! Thank you. I have heard that I have a strong personality all my life. I like your take on it. I think from some men It’s an insult and from others it’s a compliment. It depends on whether you like strong/independent women or not. From women I’m unclear. Am I a bitch? I don’t think so and I don’t get caught up in drama. Maybe not caring about that junk makes me strong? Not sure but I prefer your positive take on it.

  14. Great article. Someone mentioned this to me oneday and I went home confused of what was happening around me. Your article says it all.

    When they want to treat you as underdog, they say you are strong.
    When their incompetence and weakness stare at them, again they say you have a strong personality.
    When they have nothing to say than to express their complex attitude publicly, again they say you have a strong personality.
    whenever, their emptiness come calling, they brand your true person as “strong personality.

    The question again is, why would anyone want me to dump my God’s given attribute for his or hers???

    Bullshit!

    I am who God says I am!
    I am not less or inadequate.
    Their opinion is personal to them and they are entitle to it.

  15. I, too, have recently been told that I have a “strong personality”. I’ve heard this person use it regarding other strong females and was confused as to what was meant by the phrase.

    I went home thinking, should I just not voice when something, so as not to hurt others feelings? Should I let them fail – then what would that make me?

    I am so thankful for your post.

    1. Keep speaking your mind. You can always speak it in a softer way if wanted but never stop being you for others who are intimidated by you because they are not strong enough to say what needs to be said.

  16. I don’t think being self confident should be the same as being aggressive. Do you like being around aggressive people? Probably not unless you like to argue. And no one should be proud to want to argue because it makes more sense to believe everyone has a right to see things from their own perspective. But having a strong personality shouldn’t mean being aggressive. It should mean self confidence. It should mean taking a stand for yourself and if someone doesn’t like it, then you have nothing to do with them if that’s how it needs to be. That’s less toxic people to be around.

    1. Agreed wrose. I don’t think having a strong personality has to mean you’re aggressive, though sometimes I think that’s how people label people who are aggressive. Also agree that even if we have an opinion, it is healthy and wise to understand that others have a right to their own opinion as well. Thanks for your comment.

  17. I like what you wrote. I am a person with a strong personality (I am a guy) – I know it since I was young and close friends said it to me. I take it as a compliment because it is me, I know where I stand, I am aware of who I am. Unfortunately many are turned off by my strong personality. I do not have to please them nor should they like me. I like them as they are – who they are are including their personalities plus warts and wrinkles. We are all unique, different, one of a kind, and no one is the same. If you have a strong personality, thank you for who you are. If you have a different personality, thank you for who you are. It is good that all of us are not the same when it comes to personalities. Serenity now!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Romeo. I know that for me, I have learned throughout the years how to still be confident, without mowing others over. In the past, I have been too aggressive or outspoken at times. I now try to balance sharing my thoughts/views with trying to listen and understand to others.

      I appreciate you visiting my blog!

  18. After years of being called a “strong personality” I have just printed your article to place on the fridge so that it’s there to remind me and anyone else that reads it to know my true self is a beautiful, kind, passionate, loving and a defender of those that need me and for what I believe in confident person that is a blast to be around. If you think differently that’s ok with me. I am back from the dark side of being who everyone else thought was acceptable. I haven’t been this comfortable in my skin in 20 years. Thank you.

  19. I know this is a few-years-old-blog-post but I came across in it my google search for opinions on what a “strong personality” is, as I was told a few days ago that I had a strong personality by some school mates of mine when I didn’t back down from a bullying medical resident (we are med students). And I’m glad I found this Bcs it’s hard to have this kind of personality ESP as a woman in a field like medicine and especially surgery. Ironically whenever I tell people I want to essentially do pediatrics their response is “yes I can see it!” Bcs while I’m a warm and fun person, I can be very opinionated and will stand be the person to stand up for someone if I sense any kind of injustice or unfairness and I won’t be afraid to speak my mind…which was exactly the case that led to my being called a strong personality. I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that those of us, esp us women with strong personalities, is that while we can come off as intimidating, we also love with equal abound and that means we are good people to have in your corner.

    That said, thank you for writing this blog and putting to pen and written words what it’s like to be this caliber person and how so many of us feel 🙂

    1. You’re welcome KamalaH23. Thanks for taking the time to read. I think part of what I have learned in the past few years since I wrote this is to be patient and kind with my words- even when I disagree. There have been times when I have mowed people over with my views and times when I haven’t spoken up enough. I am constantly living in that tension of trying to be confident and assertive, and at the same time open and caring towards others. I think this will be a life-long journey.

  20. I too have felt this… All I can say from one strong sister to another, who has softened but also felt the need to not soften to the point of being unrecognizable, unhelpful and uncomfortable with myself. There is something to be said about being strong enough to lead, guide, carry and support but being soft enough to be a cushion. I don’t know if that makes sense. I love, laugh and live to the fullest and I won’t apologize for being me simply because others are intimidated by my confidence and abilities, not conceit but simple confidence. How do we show the difference if we just bow to the pressure. I don’t have to shine, but if I’m shining why is that a problem? Why can we not all shine together… enough rambling…

    Amazing you’ve been writing for years and I’m just reading now or learning of these jewels that you have written.

  21. Oh my god this is my problem since 10 years ago even now … People always talking this to me that I’m too strong I’m so selfish I’m this I’m that…
    I seriously wanted to kill my self because I thought I’m really bad person .especially I don’t have any friend who has same problem but now I don’t know if I’m right or wrong . I’m tired of peoples bullshit and when they say something bad about me like having strong personality I feel like they are complaining because they don’t have what I have they can’t get what I get . I don’t know how to deal with my biggest problem

  22. Thanks for sharing AK. I am not sure I was in the best place when I wrote this post. Though there is truth to a lot of what I wrote, I have also learned the importance of listening to the feedback of others and thinking critically about what they say. Sometimes people say things out of jealousy or lack of understanding and I can dismiss what they say. Other times I have gotten solid feedback that has been important for me to learn from and change accordingly. I do have some great strengths that intimidate others at times. But I can also act in ways that are not gracious or mow over people- so I want to be aware of how I come across, and how I treat people in order to love people the best I can. Hope that’s helpful for you as you search for your own answers.

  23. I just came across these posts and I say AMEN! Its nice to be among such wonderful people. Its OK to have a strong personality, have confidence and an opinion to express. These traits are hard won, from the challenges and disappointments life puts on our path. For others to appreciate this trait in us, we must appreciate others and their traits as well. The key is to listen first then speak; and be a servant leader. Once we’ve done that, the other person feels heard and valued. What’s not OK is to change oneself to fit another persons definition of who we should be (usually to make them feel better about who they are) to the point you are no longer you. Be cognoscente how our strength affects others, be respectful, be kind, most importantly be authentic! We can’t please everyone and those who cannot appreciate strength in another person, has issues of their own to overcome, its for us to determine if we can help them.

  24. I absolutely love this blog and went down most of the line replying to others I felt close too. Someone tried to say I had a strong personality today! (A hater) lol jk but seriously; by them telling me that… trying to put me down; what does that say about them? I hate how people find it okay to say whatever it is they want to you but as soon as you rip them a new asshole all of a sudden your strong minded or a strong personality but if I was to just take the bull then I’d be what? Cool?! Girl bye. I know who I am and they do too and I’m sorry. I’m not going to stop being me because of it. There are plenty of people who will celebrate, respect, and appreciate me and I will do the same of them. Thank you for this article!

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