The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it’s all that matters. –
Happiness is what makes our lives worth living. While sorrow maybe our constant companion, it is joy that colours our lives and our memories. Don’t we all love to relive our most joyous moments? Such is the power of a happy moment, it can bring a smile, repeatedly, long after it has passed. All one has to do is to summon the memories.
But in a country where women are still struggling to have an individual identity, personal happiness remains an alien concept to many. Doesn’t a woman’s happiness traditionally lie in making others happy? Does she even have the right to seek personal joy, and at what cost? Burdened with stereotypes and duties, women often postpone seeking happiness for themselves. Let us get done with all the duties we have to fulfill, we can always do what makes us happy later. Even when women embark on such spontaneous journeys to seek personal happiness, they have to battle guilt and shaming, for putting themselves first
- Women often stall, personal happiness and dedicate their present to fulfilling the needs of their loved ones.
- But with life being so unpredictable, is that a wise decision?
- Should women feel guilty for wanting personal happiness?
- Must their happiness always be entwined with what makes those around them happy?
Living in the moment is often considered rash and spontaneous and carefree attitude is something which brings ill-consequences a woman’s way, especially a woman who has a family to care for. Isn’t she supposed to be the responsible kind and not “irresponsible” or “reckless”? The one who is pragmatic and thinks everything that she does thoroughly?
When women embark on such spontaneous journeys to seek personal happiness, they have to battle guilt and shaming, for putting themselves first.
Let me be clear here that words like “irresponsible” or “reckless” do not mean neglecting your children or family, or not owning up to your responsibilities. Sadly for women, there is isn’t much leeway, to get away with “bad” behaviour, let alone what society calls selfishness.
Which means that a mother who puts her child in a crèche to go to work, or a woman who goes on a vacation with her best friends leaving behind her children in her husband’s or in-laws’ care, or a young girl who chooses to do what she wants and not what her parents want, are all deemed reckless and selfish. There is simply no conversation regarding their personal happiness or desires. Be it life-altering big decisions, or small steps taken to ensure fulfillment of individual happiness, women walk such a tight rope that most quests of personal happiness in the present tense is seen as mis-steps that will guarantee a fall. As a result, women postpone their quest for personal happiness until the time when they have little responsibilities. For a lot of women, such a time never comes.
Yes, we all want to be good wives, daughters, daughters-in-law, but that doesn’t essentially mean we have to always sacrifice our happiness.
However, social scrutiny, criticism or guilt shouldn’t deter women from seeking happiness for themselves. It is your life, and you get to live it only once. Besides, your loved ones need to accept you as an individual as well. They must understand that you have desires, needs and aspirations. And while it may come across as selfish, there is nothing wrong in it. How can wanting to be happy be wrong? Why must a woman sacrifice her today and rely on an unpredictable tomorrow to seek joy?
Stalling personal bliss means letting your wishes go unfulfilled, of not reclaiming yourself from the stereotypes that society binds you in. Yes, we all want to be good wives, daughters, daughters-in-law, but that doesn’t essentially mean we have to always sacrifice our happiness every day.
So dear women, take back the control of your happiness from social and familial obligations. All of us make millions of sacrifices every day to keep those around us happy. It wouldn’t make much difference if we lay claim on some things just for us. It could be a pursuit of a passion, or a trip, it could be a financial or personal decision that no one approves of. It could also be a chore that you do just for yourself, even if it means that your family has to adjust their way of life to fit in your choices. Stop postponing your happiness and embrace it today. Time may not be kind enough to offer you the opportunity to do so again and again.
Pic credits: Shape Magazine
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.