Being a woman in this world comes with a truckload of baggage and responsibilities. Not only are you treated as an inferior gender for the remaining 364 days, but there is also an unequal division in household chores, gender bias, sexual harassment and whatnot to deal with. So, this International Women’s Day promise yourself these five things.
- This Women's Day we all can make some promises to ourselves, to improve our quality of life.
- Try to be kinder to yourself and other members of your gender.
- Promise not to put your own well-being on the back burner this year.
- Don't be a silent victim. Draw the line.
We are conditioned to feel that we must work relentlessly to make people around us happy.
I’ll be kinder to myself
Be it as daughters, wives, mothers or as working women, we set up very high standards for ourselves. We juggle numerous roles and we want to excel in each and every one of them. Please tell me how is that possible? And even if it is, do we realise the cost at which this flawless multitasking comes? We are constantly critiquing ourselves and there is just no margin for error. Often, I see women complaining about how they put three hot meals a day on the dinner table, care for children, do household chores and also work, and yet they end up feeling like a failure.
We are conditioned to feel that we must work relentlessly to make people around us happy. But the tall order of expectations we have set for ourselves only ends up making us miserable. So cut yourself some slack. It is okay to lower your standards for yourself, because the only one judging you on them, is you.
I’ll be kinder to other women
While you are at it, why not promise to be kinder to other women around you? Being judgmental comes very easily to humans. But let’s admit it, women are much harsher to members of the same sex, than men are to each other. We carry that scale on which we judge ourselves with us all the time, and we often measure other women by it. Look at the way she talks. Oh, she sits at home all day and lives off her husband's money. She goes to work and leaves her kid with a maid. She doesn’t know how to cook, or apply makeup, or do somersaults while battling a fire breathing!
Your neighbour, co-worker, maid and that random mom you only meet in the park are also fighting the same battles as you do. They could use an approving nod, rather than a disapproving shrug.
There is a reason why some women choose to be homemakers, or work overtime, or wear their hair a certain way. It might not appeal to your sensibilities, but that doesn’t make them inferior. So throw that scale of judgement away and be kinder to women around you. Your neighbour, co-worker, maid and that random mom you only meet in the park are also fighting the same battles as you do. They could use an approving nod, rather than a disapproving shrug.
I’ll draw a line
Women take pride in their kind’s ability to endure. No matter what hardships our life throws at us, we never give up. We fight against all the odds and remain resilient until the end. But what about situations which can be tackled by taking a firm stand? Do we need to endure unkind friends? Or toxic relationships? Or unwanted sexual advances? Women need to learn to establish a threshold for every problem they endure, big or small. I know it is easier said than done, but at least try to start with smaller issues. Draw a line beyond which you refused to be pushed in a toxic friendship, or you’ll not endure unwanted advances from a colleague, or not give your partner a free pass from household chores. Endurance becomes a weakness when you leave it open-ended, because then others tend to take advantage of you. So draw a line beyond which you refuse to tolerate anyone’s nonsense.
Endurance becomes a weakness when you leave it open ended.
I’ll focus on my own well-being
Another habit we need to get rid of, is the tendency to put ourselves last. From eating our meals after everyone else in the family has finished, to not make our physical and mental health a priority, women have a tendency to neglect themselves. Sometimes it stems from our conditioning to be the pinnacle of sacrifice. On other days it is just pure neglect. We don’t have time, we don’t have the energy - the excuses are endless. The result is that health professionals have seen a significant rise in health issues among women.
From depression and anxiety, to diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis, women develop various health issues simply because they neglect their well-being. While we all love to care for our loved ones, it is equally important to take care of ourselves as well. So let's make a promise to ourselves that we’ll start that evening walk we have been putting off since last six months. Or set time aside to do whatever makes us happy, but more importantly, do it without feeling guilty.
While we all love to care for our loved ones, it is equally important to take care of ourselves as well.
I’ll never give up
So you got married, had a baby and had to give up your hobbies or the day job. This change in lifestyle, from being an independent working woman to being a stay at home mum, often pushes women into depression. But don’t give up just yet. Numerous women are picking up hobbies and rejoining the workforce after taking a hiatus to embrace motherhood or matrimony. Don't feel that being out of work or being a full-time mom is permanent. Your kid will grow up and be less dependent on you. So don’t let a hiatus demoralise you. Eventually, there will come a time when you will be able to reclaim a part of your identity or build a new one entirely. Till that time comes, hold on to your hopes and dreams.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.