This past year I graduated college, migrated from the West Coast to the East, moved to three different apartments, went through a pretty brutal breakup, and lost two family members, all while completing 50-70 hour weeks of service as an AmeriCorps member through a youth development nonprofit located in Boston. My teammates would always tell me, “Sam, you’re so strong.” In my head I would think that I wasn’t strong. I was just doing what I had to. I didn’t have a choice! This was what was happening with my life, and I couldn’t just sit there and watch it go by, or what would happen to me? While at times I felt like dropping everything and running back home, I maintained my perspective and pushed through.

When everything passed and I had time to reflect, I realized how strong I have become.

Since strength itself was not at the forefront of my mind, the key to surviving those months was vulnerability and determination. I opened up to my teammates, and in return to my vulnerability, I was showered with love, support, and encouragement. I did my best to return the favor for my teammates, because this past year was by no means easy for any of us. I revel in the fact that our strength thrived off each other, even if we didn’t notice it happening. We were a team that was dedicated to making an impact in Boston, and we worked well together in order to make that happen. I am truly grateful to have had some of the most amazing people on my side during those tough times.

By allowing myself to be vulnerable and share when I was not in the best of spirits, I in turn, felt strong. It takes strength to be honest with how you feel, and admit when things aren’t great. Sometimes vulnerability is our strongest quality. Being vulnerable is one of the hardest things for us prideful human beings. We want to rely solely on ourselves and be independent and invincible. Throughout our journeys, we have to remember that sometimes it’s natural to need help from others, even if it’s a quick pep talk.

When you hear the word “strong,” what do you think of? As women, I think it’s important to reflect on how strong we are. When you feel the need to undermine your abilities whether it’s because you don’t believe you are good enough or you’re afraid of what others might tell you, I encourage you to reflect on what truly makes you strong. Remember that you deserve better than to tell yourself anything otherwise!

Samantha  is SWSG’s Communications and Social Media intern for Summer 2013. She is originally from the Bay Area and is a University of California, Riverside graduate who recently completed a year of service with City Year Boston. She is an avid reader and writer who is passionate about literature and powerful women all over the world and throughout history.