“I continue to redefine what strength means to me. I now look at It from a holistic point of view rather than a linear one.”
– Ma-Musu Nyande Ocheme
Here at Ostelin Strong, we know that strength is core to each individual and can change over time. Let’s find out how our nine collaborators break down boundaries and how their strength stories have changed over time.
“Naturally as we get older, we learn so much more about ourselves. Strength for me through my younger years was being physically and mentally strong enough to push through comfort barriers, on a more ‘physically challenging’ level. Now, I still believe this is an element of strength, but not all of it. Strength some days is simply showing up in my truest form and still loving every ounce of myself.”
“As a younger girl I always believed that strength was when a person was the most financially stable, looked the best ‘physically’, and had what looks like a perfect family through Instagram photos.
My definition of strength has changed now that I have become a mother and an independent woman. I now believe strength is different for everyone. I see strength in some when they get up every day and go to work to achieve their goals. I see strength in others when they try their absolute best to be the best parent, they can be each and every day. I see strength in people that actively work to better their physical, emotional and mental health.
Some people would assume that women are not capable of working and actually being successful in their role, while being new mums. I am currently defying this as I’m back at work and I have been feeling great about this choice of mine. I feel so empowered knowing that I’m taking care of my son while also having that time to work on my career.”
“When I was young, I probably believed that strength meant never being low and always being upbeat and positive. These days I’m wise enough to know that the strongest people are those that have faced adversity and bounced back and not let those tough times define them.”
Over the years, I examined strength through the physical lens rather than the emotional or mental. I always found myself feeling weak because all the definition of strength around me was physical. As I grow and gain better life experiences, I continue to redefine what strength means to me. I now look at It from a holistic point of view rather than a linear one, recognising that strength is a combination of my physical, emotional, and mental strength.
When I look at how this mindset has changed how I redefine myself, “I don’t clean, and I don’t cook’’ is a statement I started making while dating. I was tired of the cultural, traditional, and social expectations of women to always be domesticated. It was a way to remove myself from those expectations and create an environment where my partner is an equal partner – where the roles we play in each other’s lives isn’t based on our genders”
“When I was younger I viewed strength as only a physical thing. If someone was physically strong or able to not show any emotions, I viewed that as showing strength. However, over time I came to realise that strength can be shown in many ways.
The stereotype I defy is that women are dependent. From the time I left home at eighteen until today, I have always been an independent woman that has made sure I could stand on my own two feet, not reliant on anyone. Another stereotype is that women are submissive. Since I can remember I have always been incredibly headstrong and very assertive when it comes to my needs and wants and ensuring I do whatever I can to get them.”
“When I was young, I used to view vulnerability as a weakness. Now I see so much strength in being vulnerable and speaking your truth. Asking for and accepting help when you need it. There is strength in numbers so surround yourself with those who support you and you can help support!
“I defy the expectation that women should stop everything when they become a mother. I love my children dearly but I balance motherhood with career goals and what fills my cup personally, because ultimately that’s what makes me a better mum and partner. Women can still have a purpose and drive outside of motherhood”
“Prior to becoming a mum I would consider strength purely physical. But after experiencing the strength that is required to bring a child into the world and raise them, my view on this has vastly changed.
Strength is more than physical, it is mental and emotional too. A woman’s body is strong in itself but there is so much mental and emotional strength needed in order to overcome the daily challenges of motherhood.
I am a mother first and foremost but I have not lost the other pieces of me. I believe that a woman can still have a career and should never be ashamed of putting herself first.
It’s hard to leave our kids each day to go to work and there is definitely guilt there. However, that example to my girls is valuable. The example of their mother being who she is, taking care of herself and having a career.
On another note – This was a hard one to answer for me… I’m so glad you asked this because it gave me a chance to think about positives in myself.”
There’s no point in being physically strong if you feel weak on the inside, and vice versa. It can feel like a balancing act, but putting time and energy into all aspects of strength is really important!
I think as young girls we’re conditioned to be polite, even if it’s to our own detriment. It takes time, but I have learnt that I don’t need to be polite if someone is making me uncomfortable or pushing my boundaries, physical or emotional. This is something I really want to instill in my daughter. She is only three but I want her to know she can use her voice and doesn’t have to ‘smile and be polite’!
Speaking of, we’re all about defying stereotypes at my Podcast, It’s All Her and believe women can be whoever and whatever they want to be.”
“Wow, there have definitely been many challenges and tests of strength over the years. Nineteen years ago I had my first child, and no one ever can prepare you for the challenge of being a mother.
In terms of strength, my life has thrown many challenges my way that had me digging for my own strength. These include the loss of my brother and mother, alongside my mother’s battle with cancer, my husband’s heart attack and the day my son had a seizure, alongside my own two surgeries.
I now realise that these events have made me the person I am today and has taught me to harness this strength within me.”