A woman’s heart is a chamber of secrets – is an oft repeated statement. And it is so too. A protector, a nurturer, a lover, an achiever, a fighter (specially for her children) and so much more is what a woman can do. Each of these she chooses to do with utmost conviction, faith and dedication.
Yet – there are many a woman – who under pressure of the expectations from the world around, end up being totally unfair to their own needs and wants.
How many times have you seen a friend or colleague, who at the outward appearance is super happy, successful and a high achiever; but you just scratch the surface a bit, you realise that in there is a soft, docile and probably even a sad woman who is crushing under the pressure of being a woman. A perfect woman.
How often do we find a young cousin embroiled in the myriad nuances of a married life in India when all she wanted when she stepped into the marriage was love and happiness. And yet she smiles up, puts up a brave front as she tries to hide her confusion, and moves on. To be the perfect woman.
Leave that perfect woman alone.
Why do we build a facade of being the woman who knows it all? Why should we? Is it necessary?
The expectation from our society is hard. A woman must be soft when needed, strong when expected, be passionate and emotional at times, and be totally ruthless when it comes to the matter of principles.
Covering up the face with make-up does not take away the pain of abuse that a woman is going through; baring her soul and sharing her inner thoughts does not make her weak; being hopelessly emotional about her needs or laughing her heart out does not define her as selfish.
So here is my five point talisman which I feel will help women step out of that facade that we have built around us. It helped me, for sure:
Know yourself – Right from the moment a girl is born, she is engulfed by a well oiled ecosystem of expectations and adjectives that end up defining her. Lost in the varied aspects of meeting these expectations, and living up to the adjectives, one ends up completely losing connect with one’s own self. That is, if they even identified one. So that is our starting point. Dive deep and figure out who you are, what makes you what you are, what appeals to you, what makes you happy, what gives you peace of mind? Do remember to view yourself totally raw and not in the various roles of a daughter, mother, wife etc. Look at yourself completely devoid of these duties and then ask yourself the questions.
Do not be afraid – You are going to be surprised by what you find as part of the first step. There are things that we do out of interest, for ourselves and things that we do out of duty. But fearing what others will think of us, we choose to do the latter at the cost of the former. As they say – at the end of fear, lies success. Fear of society, what people will say, dictates most of a woman’s life. However, as the great song goes, ‘kuch tho log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna’. Either way, people will say something. If one is a workaholic, people say she is too ambitious. If one is relaxed about their job, people say she should go home and cook. If she grows up the ladder at work, she is assumed to have “connections”. If she is satisfied with her role, she is again told she should go home and cook. It never ends, both at home and outside. So put that fear aside and choose your path wisely, focusing on what makes you happy. Because unless you are happy, you cannot make others happy.
Define the boundary line – Once you step out of fear and really know yourself, it becomes easy to draw a boundary line. The expectations of society from women are extremely burdensome. But remember that perfect woman does not exist, rather she need not exist. Draw your boundaries having regard to your own capabilities and wishes. If there is something you cannot do and have no interest in learning it, by all means draw a boundary without fear. And if there is something you can do but still have no interest in doing it, feel free to draw your boundary there.
Being a mother does not mean forgetting yourself – ‘A mother is special’, ‘a mother is selfless’, ‘a mother is god’? No. A mother is a human being. She is special because she gives birth putting her own body in danger. But she should not be special enough to forget her own needs. She is selfless in that she puts her child’s needs first. But she should not be selfless because everyone else wants her to be that way. She is god to her child because she gives life and she nurtures it. But she should not forget her own comfort, desires and safety in the name of the child just because others tell her to do so. To sum up, a mother is an extremely special human being, who often forgets to take care of herself. But unless you are mentally and physically healthy, it will be difficult to get your child to be healthy.
Motherhood is not only about love – The expectations of the society from a mother puts her on an unreasonable pedestal indicating that she is supposed to feel love and only love for the child. However, mother child relationship is as human and normal as other relationships wherein one feels happy, sad, angry, resentful, jealous and sometimes hatred. Embrace all these emotions as part of motherhood, otherwise you will end up feeling GUILTY.
There is no perfect woman. There need not be one.