Being a strong, independent girl is harder than it used to be. For many girls, being considered strong and independent is a hard task, particularly in a world where more young people and graduates than ever are being driven back into living with their families, and into being underemployed (if they can find work at all). However, the definition of what it truly means to be a strong, independent woman has changed. Not every woman has her own apartment overlooking the city, or a string of adventurous lovers, or a high-powered job.

Strong, independent girls are not defined by their circumstances; whether they’re from an Ivy League family or the first in their family to ever attend college or graduate high school, a strong, independent girl can find the best in her situation and work hard at improving it while retaining her sense of inner strength and ethical values. Stuck as how to become one of these strong, independent girls? Read below to check out what to avoid in order to become one:

1. They don’t neglect their careers.

Firstly, strong, independent girls have their careers always at the forefront of their lives. Working hard is something everyone should do, regardless of age, gender or other factors, whether it’s pulling an all-night shift at a fast food diner or clocking in hours as CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Strong, independent girls always work hard, keep their eyes to the future, and strive to work on their careers. That old adage of keeping your standards as high as your heels applies somewhat here — except that you should keep your standards, dreams, and aspirations as high as your work drive.

2. They don’t fail to handle their own situations.

One of the most important things strong, independent girls always do is handle their own situations, good or bad. Speaking for yourself is something everyone should be doing anyway, but strong, independent girls never have trouble making their voice heard and ensuring any decision involving them directly is a reflection on their choices. Strong, independent girls handle their own job worries and roommate problems and flat tires. It’s not that it’s bad to rely on people; but to have the knowledge that you can handle the situation is powerful in itself.

3. They don’t overreact to bad situations or mistakes.

Strong, independent girls have the ability to let mistakes roll off their backs and to learn from their bad choices. They don’t complain, or rally against a world that has bitten them in the ass. If you’re a strong, independent girl, you let yourself make these mistakes and you learn from it. You don’t overreact to bad stuff that happens (although suitably horrific stuff warrants whatever response you like). You see these negative scenarios as a learning process and a way in which you can grow and become better and stronger. Strong independent girls don’t whine or complain — they can mope for a little while and then they move on to become better people.

4. They don’t rise to the bait of haters.

Haters seem to be everywhere these days — from the early days of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, legions of these anonymous Internet users can often be found crawling at the bottom of message boards, spouting vitriol at every turn. Strong, independent girls can often find themselves the target of such attacks, but thankfully never rise to it or give it the time or oxygen it requires to survive. It also goes without saying that no strong, independent girl is a troll herself. Trolling is harmful, abusive, and utterly repugnant. All it serves as is the symbol of the emptiness of a person’s life that they need to fill it with anger and resentment. Strong, independent girls never rise to haters’ bait — they’re usually too busy living the life they want to lead to care or take notice anyway.

5. They don’t stop learning.

Strong, independent girls never stop learning or trying to better their own sense of knowledge about the world or subjects. It’s a sad thing when people stop being interested in the world around them, or decide to remain set in their ways and not learn or explore any new point of view or topic or challenge themselves. Strong, independent girls are never, ever phased by someone thinking that their passion for knitting, or science or Doctor Who is ‘weird,’ or that their desire to learn about patterns or physics or sonic screwdrivers is worthless. Strong, independent girls move on to people whose opinions they care about and never let anyone stand in the way of their passions or their education.

6. They don’t act on first impulse.

There’s something to be said for the virtue of patience. Strong, independent girls practice patience and restraint every day — they never act on the first wild impulse that comes their way. That way they’d be making out with the random, bearded man in the club corner, spending too much money on a bag that they won’t even like three weeks after they’ve blown their savings on it, and doing other potentially dangerous, potentially really stupid things. Strong, independent girls always wait and think things through. They’re always in control of their lives — as much as possible anyway — and do the things that will truly make them happy. They pay the rent, and save the Birkin bag purchase for when they’ve got enough that it’s a wild treat, not a one-way trip to being homeless on the streets.

7. They don’t let other people affect their confidence.

One of the fundamental things that a strong, independent girl does not do is let other people hold sway over her confidence and self-esteem. Your body is just fine the way it is, and the projections of perfection that the media brings about are harmful. Strong, independent girls do not let themselves become affected. They carry their heads high and no matter their shape, size, skin color, gender identity or form of self-expression, they own themselves. The things that make them stand out become their greatest assets. No strong, independent girl ever lets herself feel bad about being herself.

8. They don’t neglect their physical needs.

One thing strong, independent girls never, ever do, is neglect their physiological needs and health. The fact is that your body needs sleep, needs water and food, and needs to unwind and relax. Neglecting these isn’t just stupid; it’s reckless, silly, and not something that a strong, independent girl does at all. Strong, independent girls get plenty of sleep; aside from being a biological imperative, it helps your mental health, concentration, healing factor, and makes your skin look amazing. These same girls drink plenty of water in order to stay hydrated and healthy, and eat as much and as healthily as they want without getting hung up on calories. These girls relax and unwind and let their mind restore itself so that it can be fighting fit the next day. Now then, that’s not so hard, is it?

9. They don’t have unrealistic expectations.

Having unrealistic expectations is one of the quickest ways to being an unhappy camper. Fortunately, if you’re a strong, independent girl, that’s not an issue for you as you have your expectations in check and are realistically optimistic about the future and what it’ll bring. There is a fine line between wishful thinking and thinking that some outlandish event or scenario will actually occur. Let’s face it, everyone has had a daydream fantasy of winning the lottery and retiring to the South of France with a luxury villa and Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o as speed-dial buddies. Strong, independent girls accept and enjoy these brief interludes but never let them truly affect their lives; they keep grounded and realistic, while never dampening down on their dreams and goals.

10. They don’t stay in toxic relationships.

The law of attraction usually means that strong, independent girls should flock with other strong, independent girls and guys. However, sometimes they find themselves with other people who are dissatisfied, petty, angry, or just generally toxic. If you can’t work through things with your friends, then it’s time to cut the strings and let them go. Strong, independent girls never let the toxic actions of another person affect them — whether they’re a random coworker or a close friend — and often they allow the relationship to dissolve. Hanging around in a toxic friendship or relationship is never a good thing and is something strong, independent girls never do.

11. They don’t let someone else dictate their relationships.

Most people are actively involved or interested in having or maintaining a romantic relationship. Strong, independent girls never let anyone else dictate or control their romantic relationships. They date until they find a partner worth investing their time, energy, and effort into. These women don’t entertain a partner who belittles them, disrespects them, or attempts to control every aspect of the relationship. They don’t have enough time to be dealing with the kind of people who try to confine their lives or control them in any way, shape or form.

12. They don’t lose control of their lives.

Finally, strong, independent girls never, ever lose control of their life. Control is, at least according to selected philosophers, an illusion created by mankind to stop us freaking out and destroying society. However, it serves an important purpose, and knowing that you are in control of your choices, decisions, and lifestyle is a massive boost to your self-esteem and confidence. Self-control is one of life’s greatest virtues and assets. Making sure you get enough sleep so that you’re not late for work is being strong. Making sure you avoid incriminating Facebook photos where any potential employer could see them is being strong. Treating yourself to a movie or drinks after work or a great meal is being independent. Strong, independent girls carve out their own lives and their own paths; just how it should be.

Featured photo credit: Beyonce, Huffington Post via huffingtonpost.com

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