The other day, a colleague was talking about her recent all girls’ trip to Columbia. Her tales of fun were interspersed with how dangerous Columbia can be and the occasions during which they felt unsafe. ‘So, why did you go to Columbia if it’s that unsafe?’ I asked.

What she told me blew my mind, because I had seen such things happen only in the movies.

They went to Columbia because my colleague’s friend, let’s name her ‘Jane’, was getting married– to a guy who was in the UK illegally, and needed the right paperwork to continue living in the country. Jane who has been unemployed for a while needed money. A sum of 2500 pounds was agreed upon, half on the day of the wedding and half after he got the proper documents from the Immigration Office. Now Jane, she is legally obliged to stay ‘married’ for 3 years, during which they will be visited upon by the Immigration officials to verify the authenticity of the marriage. Not to mention that 2500 pounds will last her for maybe 2 months, so even monetarily this wasn’t the wisest of decisions.

We read articles, listen to podcasts and watch videos about the importance of women uplifting and supporting fellow women; that there should be no place for judgement when it comes to a woman making certain choices. But are all choices equally empowering? Hand on heart, how many of you could not help roll your eyes and think that Jane needs an intervention? Sometimes, the judgement comes, not because of our smug sense of self-righteousness, but because someone is doing something evidently foolish and potentially damaging.A heart-to-heart conversation and offering support could prevent matters taking a wrong turn.

Another case in point is celebrity designer Kate Spade who recently committed suicide. Her sister told newspapers that she saw this coming; that Kate refused to seek therapy for her manic depression as she was worried it would impact her brand if people found out. We don’t know the family dynamics but hypothetically, could the suicide have been prevented if Kate’s sister had insisted more vehemently and forcibly took her to a therapist?

We don’t know the family dynamics but hypothetically, could the suicide have been prevented if Kate’s sister had insisted more vehemently and forcibly took her to a therapist?

I won’t go into how hard it is being a woman—we have homes to run, jobs to keep and families to take care of. We have to fend off sexual harassment as well as break the glass ceiling. Not to mention, we are more prone to feeling guilty and that brings with it a barrage of other emotional stresses.

Kate Spade commits suicide
Kate Spade commits suicide, PC Page Six

Yet, some of our sisters insist on complicating their lives by refusing to seek help from the right sources, by not having a frank chat about what is troubling them, by persisting in relationships that do them no good, doing jobs that are not propelling them forward, by misinterpreting the idea of ‘freedom of choice’, by not stopping and thinking.

Our choices should lead to our progress; make us stronger, bolder and more confident. If does neither, then it’s a compromise, not a choice.

Shyama Laxman works in London as a sales professional. She eats dal chawal and breathes Bollywood. The views expressed are author’s own. 

Also Read: If Love Knows No Boundary, Then Laws Shouldn’t Discriminate Either

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