I am a strong woman

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I am a strong woman

Jenna Robinson

Jenna Robinson

IMAGE / Brianna Horne

Jenna Robinson

IMAGE / Brianna Horne

IMAGE / Brianna Horne

Jenna Robinson

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I’m standing, cheeks burning, jaw clenched, tears welling in my eyes as I try to hold them in.

“Are you OK?” someone asks.

The tears roll down my cheeks.

I am not sad. I am angry.

I cry when I’m mad or frustrated. I mean, I cry with a lot of my emotions — joy, fear, excitement — but those emotions coincide with crying in people’s eyes. Anger not so much.

Crying when I am angry has always been one of my insecurities because no matter how hard I try, it always happens.

It’s frustrating because it’s natural for people to want to comfort and coddle people who are crying, and when someone is angry people know to give them space. But the line between these are blurred in my case.

I get frustrated when I feel strongly about something but can’t explain it.

I think the worst part is when I’m trying to sound strong … and cry.

Last year I still road the bus to school. On the way home a good friend of mine received the sad news that her family dog had passed away while she was at school.

She was crying — softly and to herself — and I was comforting her.

A boy on the bus — older than us and not our friend — felt like he had the right to tell her that it “wasn’t that big of a deal” and that “her crying was annoying.”

I was extremely angry.

I asked him to stop, which only caused him to continue calling both of us names. I couldn’t get off the bus, and the bus driver wasn’t stepping in.

I told him, very seriously, that he didn’t have the right to invalidate someone else’s feelings. But of course I started crying as I said it.

My voice cracked and tears fell as I choked out my words to him, which only encouraged his mockery.

I felt stupid and weak.

Now I realize that I wasn’t weak at all. I had the courage to step in and stand up for my friend against a bully.

I cry when I am angry because I feel passionate about the things I am fighting for. I now realize this is strength.

Of course I get my feelings hurt. Of course I have insecurities. Of course I have failures — everyone does.

As I get older, I admire those around me for their strength: My mom for never letting go of her goals and what she believes in, and taking care of my family and me. Grams, for making the hard decision to undergo chemo, yet still smiling and enjoying her everyday life. My friends for fighting their personal battles yet still supporting me.

Every day I see powerful women who are confident and happy, and I aspire to be like them.

Just recently I realized — I was one of them.

I work hard for my grades and my music, I strive for success and happiness and although I face defeat more often than not, I continue fighting for my goals.

I realize now that it’s OK to have off days, it’s OK to feel defeated, and, most importantly, it’s OK to cry.

I don’t expect acceptance all of the time, but I do expect respect. I also expect myself to be respectful to others.

It’s important to remember that no one else determines my self-worth, no one else can tell me how to handle my emotions, and no one can tell me that crying makes me weak.

I am a strong woman.