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15 Life Lessons We Can Learn From The Life of Frida Kahlo

Life Lessons Learn Life Frida Kahlo

“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.” – Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo became one of the most famous women in the history of Latin America as a Mexican painter. Apart from creating magnificent works of art,  Frida was also a poet.

The ones who knew her in person described her as “one of history’s grand divas, a heavy tequila drinker, a dirty joke-telling smoker, a bohemian who threw grand festive dinner parties for the likes of Leon Trotsky, poet Pablo Neruda and her husband, muralist Diego Rivera.

If I were to speak on her name, I would definitely say she is an icon of strength, a victim of an unstable love, and a profound genius in art.

Related: Women empowerment is the new wave. Get with it. Here are 40+ Badass Quotes About Strong Women That Will Inspire You.

15 Life Lessons We Can Learn From The Life of Frida Kahlo
15 Life Lessons We Can Learn From The Life of Frida Kahlo

Being one of my greatest inspirations in life, I regard Frida Kahlo’s life as a school of lessons.  After a number of years of admiration for Frida Kahlo, I can finally put on paper all this woman has taught me:

1. Love is forgiveness.

“I had two big accidents in my life: The trolley and Diego; Diego is by far the worse.”
~
Frida Kahlo

Frida was married to Diego Rivera, the muralist who was well known for his endless love affairs with other women. He was a renown womanizer who had serious problems with infidelity.

Even though none of Frida’s friends nor her parents approved of this awkward union, Frida still got married to Diego. She loved him despite all the pain he caused her.

Frida teaches us that love is forgiveness.

She might not have spoken it out loud, but staying loyal to him throughout her life, shows us that she forgave him every time he cheated on her.

Read Love and Forgiveness

2. Love where you come from

Frida was born to a German father and a Mexican mother, who was of mostly indigenous descent. Her love and passion for these mixes of cultures are evident in all aspects of Frida’s life, from her artwork to her sense of style to the way she decorated her household. Frida proudly dressed in traditional Mexican attire, and her home was teeming with Mexican folk art and adorned with pre-hispanic artifacts. 

3. Love is unexplainable.

“…the marriage of Frida and Diego is like the union between an elephant and a dove.”
~
Frida’s mother, Matilde Calderon

Whenever I have a conversation about Frida’s life with someone, I almost always get the same question: “Why did she love him?”

Frida loved Diego for reasons no one could ever understand and she remained faithful in her love for him up until the day of her demise.

Sometimes we tend to think we fall for the wrong person, but in our very own eyes, they’re always right for us. Diego was 42-years-old and 300 pounds while Frida was 22 and 98 pounds when they got married. He cheated on her, spent little time with her and yet she still loved him.

If we look back at our own experiences, we can somehow understand Frida’s love for Diego. We can never explain the love we had (and maybe still have) for people who hurt us or leave us but we can definitely feel it. Frida has taught me how unexplainable love is .

4. Life, however painful, is worth living

Frida lived a difficult life shaped and moulded by crippling pain. She suffered from a serious case of polio as a young girl, causing one of her legs to be withered and stunted.

“I AM HAPPY TO BE ALIVE AS LONG AS I CAN PAINT.”
Frida Kahlo

Then, at 18, Frida was in a traumatizing trolley-car accident that would force her to wear a corset to support her spine for the rest of her entire life. After that incident, not one day of her life was free from pain.

Even yet, Frida loved life. For a number of years of her life, she was completely bedridden, the view of her home’s courtyard (which she watched from a mirror that was hung on the wall above her bed) was her only real contact with the outside world—and still, she did not surrender to pain or to sorrow. “I am not sick. I am broken,” she wrote in her diary.  “But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.”

5. Love yourself.

“The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to.”
~
Frida Kahlo

To love yourself means to remember yourself, despite the circumstances.

Frida married a man who had little to no time for her, due to the busy life he led. She married a man who constantly cheated on her and left her in agony. At a young age, she suffered from polio, underwent three abortions and had an accident that tucked her away in bed for many years.

We live in a time where we’re instantly bedridden if we have a minor headache. Frida had a broken spine, wore a corset for most of her life, had an amputated leg and still she managed to paint.

With all the burden of her emotional and physical pain, Frida never forgot herself. She loved herself so immensely that she always kept herself busy with painting. Although she loved Diego, she didn’t accept being a human doormat who waited for him at home weeping. In retaliation, she loved herself enough to go out, make affairs and pleasure herself just the way Diego did.

Read Three Wrong Ways To Love Yourself And How To Do It Right

6. Embrace what makes you special, even if it’s “odd”

Frida, with her signature unibrow and hairy upper lip, was not at all “conventionally attractive.” Still, if she was criticized for it, Frida didn’t bat an eye, nor did she ever make an effort to change herself to be visually appealing for others. In fact, she painted her thick unibrow into her own self-portraits, with the understanding that it was part of what made her. She found power in radical self-acceptance, letting the world know it shouldn’t dare try to change her.

7. Know when to quit.

“I am not sick… I am broken.”
~ Frida Kahlo

Frida’s husband, Diego, had many affairs with many women. But one affair finally pushed Frida to say enough is enough. In 1934, just after having her third abortion, Frida learned that Diego cheated on her with her younger sister, Cristina.

Afterward, they separated for nearly four years as Frida led a life away from Diego.

Here, Frida teaches us that it’s okay not to let go too soon but one must know when it’s time to quit.

8. Life is better with color

Frida absolutely loved color. Her house, which she shared with the famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, was a striking royal blue. Reds, oranges, yellows, and greens are found even in the unhappiest of her art. Moreover, she dressed in brightly colored clothing and cut  fresh flowers from her garden to wear on her hair. Frida’s life, no matter how painful and disappointing, was vibrant with color and full of laughter and brightness. We can all learn a tremendous lesson from the way she chose beauty over sorrow and color over pain.

9. Suffering is consciousness in disguise.

“I drank to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learnt how to swim.” ~ Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was plagued by illness from a very young age. At 18 she encountered a tough accident that left her with a broken spine and a fractured vaginal structure. She had hundreds of injuries and later in life, died critically ill with pneumonia.

Mentally, emotionally and physically, Frida Kahlo went through intense and immense suffering. Though we don’t realize it, Frida was more conscious than many of us are today.

Her pain was her gateway to higher realizations—realizations that we only find through books these days. Frida found them through her pain.

10. Never apologize for your strength

Frida famously (or perhaps infamously) said, “I was born a bitch. I was born a painter.” This woman was a real boss. She endured way more than I (or any of us) could possibly imagine and yet she still came out swinging with the right attitude.

“I WAS BORN A BITCH. I WAS BORN A PAINTER.” – Frida Kahlo

She was not silent, she was not demure, she did not worry if her strength, power or success might be intimidating to others. Frida was unapologetic about her strength, her art, her politics, and her sexuality and she didn’t have a reason to apologize about it. She simply was who she really was.

11. Keeping a diary is healthy.

“I never paint dreams or nightmares; I paint my own reality.” ~ Frida Kahlo

People often tend to underestimate the importance of keeping a diary. I believe Frida wouldn’t have been able to live as long as she did if she didn’t let out her pain.

There is only one thing that can truly kill us and it’s the emotion called “sadness.” If sadness isn’t expressed, it has the capability of ending a person’s life faster than any disease.

Frida Kahlo is the first person in history to write a diary with a brush on canvas. She also kept written diaries with drawings for the last 10 years of her life.

Frida teaches us in many ways to express, to paint, to write, to do anything to release our anger and sadness. She teaches us to create something out of our pain — something beautiful.

12. Don’t be ashamed of your style.

Frida is remembered as an icon of beauty in Mexico. She is known to this day for her extensive style with her colorful clothes and extraordinary hair braids.

Her unibrow and her mustache that people make fun of today are the very elements that made Frida unique. She left her armpits untouched and decorated herself with colorful Tehuana dresses.

Frida was renowned for her red lipstick, red nail polish, and the beautiful smell of perfume that she wore. Kids in her neighborhood would know she was passing by when smelting the scent of roses from the street.

Frida teaches us to be unique in our style and comfortable in our own skin. She teaches us to simply be ourselves.

13. Don’t get attached to your plans.

“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.” ~ Frida Kahlo

Frida never planned to become an artist until she was 18. Before that, she was planning to become a doctor and attended a prestigious school that only had 35 girls out of 2,000 students—among which Frida was one of them.

The accident that occurred when she was at the age of 18 changed the course of her life forever. As the result of being bedridden with a corset, her father gave her his brushes and paint and constructed an easel for her so she could paint while she was in bed.

Just like Frida says, “everything changes, everything moves.” We will never know how or when our life can change. Hence, never plan to get attached to your plans.

14. Women have an abundance of strength inside.

“At the end of the day we can endure much more than we think we can.” ~ Frida Kahlo

I truly believe that women are stronger than men in many aspects and Frida Kahlo stands out in history to prove this point for us.

She is a raw example of how much a woman can undergo and still be able to stand on two feet.

With a man who sucked the emotional energy out of her system and an accident that left her with hundreds of injuries and deadly illnesses, Frida teaches us that women are capable of redefining strength.

Read Reclaim Your Life: 15 Ways To Rebuild Your Life When You’re Broken Inside

15. Let go.

“I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return.”
~ Frida Kahlo

Frida was an outgoing person who often used wise words in her conversations. She had the habit of smoking, drinking tequila and singing off-color songs to guests at the many parties she hosted.

Despite the doctors tests on her that revealed a severe kidney infection, anemia, exhaustion and alcoholism, Frida remained drinking, smoking and having fun.

The bottle of tequila and cigarettes never left her hand.

Frida held them until her last breath. She just didn’t care much about the consequences. Knowing that she had gone through a lot and lost so much, she felt that there was nothing more to lose—she let go, and this is what made her the great Frida that we know today.

15 Life Lessons We Can Learn From The Life of Frida Kahlo
Life Lessons Learn Life Frida Kahlo pin
15 Life Lessons We Can Learn From The Life of Frida Kahlo

Blanc Ocean

Hey, I’m Blanc. I am a writer, a lyricist, a musician and an award winning poet. I am a third culture kid (not really a kid anymore) and an introvert by nature. I am passionate about pop culture, basketball, cinematography, anthropology and drama. I believe in the power of words and ideas and their potential, when followed through with action, to change the world.View Author posts