For almost two weeks, I focused on trying to maintain my composure in order to be a source of support for others. I was too afraid to be seen as selfish so I made sure to stand tall in the midst of any chaos. I had to find it in me to tell others that I was happy for them even though I was grieving. Forget having the weight of the world on my shoulders. I had the grief of death sitting on my chest, cutting off my airways. For two weeks, I held my breath because I was afraid that if I breathed then all of my unpleasant thoughts and emotions would spill out like a disease. I didn't scream when I wanted to. My knees didn't buckle when I walked. I swallowed painful knot after knot in my throat and let them collect in the pit of my stomach. No matter how much heavier each step became, externally I fit the mold of a "strong woman".

Sunday was the final straw for me because you see, I stopped caring about being considered a strong woman. Being a strong woman became another burden that I chose to bear and it didn't make me feel the way that I thought it would. I didn't feel as if I could take on the world and conquer anything in my path. No. Being a strong woman became something that made me second guess who I really am and I had to cut ties with that title.

What I am is a woman who knows too well what sorrow and anguish feel like. I stared death in the face as he took away a life that I was certain would flourish into something beautiful. I have opened my heart multiple times and watched as I allowed it to be trampled in hopes that it would be appreciated one day. I sunk to a bottomless pit and didn't even try to climb out when I arrived. I chose to sit there and allow the darkness to consume me.

What I am is a woman who has learned to survive and thrive but do not be fooled. My way of healing and growing through painful situations does not fit into a complete 5 or 12 step program. I veer off the path of how a person is "supposed" to get through something and I gravitate towards what feels like home to me. When it seems that I have shut down, I am doing everything but that. I have learned to find solace in the darkest crevices of mind and I have confronted parts of myself that others did not like only to realize that those parts of me are fear driven. I'm learning to be kinder to me when my first instinct is to reprimand myself based off of any expectations that have been placed on me. I don't have it all together and life has surely let me know that I still don't have the answers.

The closer that I reach my mid-twenties, the more that I care about being my idea of who I should be as a woman. I thought that being labeled as a strong woman last year was a great thing but I don't have to be that. I can be myself, as complex as I am, and still make it through my darkest moments. You can keep the "strong" title. I don't need nor want it anymore.