It is a second nature for most women to constantly seek social approval in every aspect of their lives. Do they like me as a girl? Does society approve of me as a daughter-in-law? Do they like me as a working mother? Would they still like me if I were to divorce my husband, or crop my hair so short, you could make out the shape of my skull? Or decline to wear a saree?
Why is it so important that the society approve of us? Has it got something to do with how we are raised to be good girls? Or is this thousands of years of criticism, which now manifests itself as a lack of self-belief? Whatever may be the reason, this longing for social approval only leaves us unhappy and under-confident. Social approval has now become a need and it now takes precedence over personal happiness.
Indian women obsess more about "what more can we do, so that society remains happy with us."
It is not just about our parents, partners, friends or colleagues liking us. We want every living and non-living object in this universe to like us. Why? Because ever since we are old enough to understand, we are made conscious about society’s reaction to us. Our behaviour, our conduct, our appearance, even the length of our hair is to appease the people around us.
- Women, especially Indian women worry about societal approvals.
- This need for social approval at every step stems from our upbringing, as we are told to keep in mind what other's will say.
- This obsession with earning everyone's approval demands a lot of sacrifices.
- Imagine the life we can lead, on our rules and as we like, if we begin to care about what makes us happy, and not what will make others like us.
Parents and families end up teaching young girls that their life is all about seeking approval from others. As we are the unwanted gender in our society, we must constantly appease them for tolerating our existence. But what is the solution here?
I wore my hair short throughout my teens. Refuting to wear "feminine clothes" was also a part of my rebellious streak. I was labelled weird, tomboy and brought disapproving head shakes my parents’ way. This rebellion was stemmed from a very early realisation of the society’s differing standards of conduct for boys and girls.
It was only later that I realised that this rebellion only confirmed that I cared about what people had to say about me. And that is the root of all our troubles. As women, we need to stop caring about approvals beyond a point.
Stop caring about whether people will like you or not, because they will always find a reason not to.
The truth is that no matter what extent you go to please others, you will always fall short of social expectations. Even when you do please them, the cost you will pay is your own happiness. So the question should never be do they like or do they still like me? It should be more of why must I bother? Because those who do like us organically, they do so without any appeasement. Besides, this obsession keeps us from following our dreams, our passion and leading our lives the way we want to. Imagine all that we can achieve, when we stop caring about whether other’s like us or not, especially considering how short our lives are.
Picture Credit : Steve's Thoughtcrimes
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.