Things That "Independent" Women Hesitate To Do For Themselves

A friend told me, "Until you stop being hesitant to take agency over your life, you’re not truly independent." That hit me deeply. She was right. I hesitate to take certain decisions and end up feeling guilt-ridden when I do things for myself.

Kalyani Ganesan
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Things That Make Women Feel Guilty

Image Credits: Republic World

A few weeks ago, I was venting out to a friend when she told me, "You claim to be an independent woman, but you don’t seem to act like one." I was taken aback and asked why she felt that way. She said, "Until you stop being hesitant to take agency over your life, you’re not truly independent."

That hit me deeply. She was right. I might have a job, I might be taking care of my everyday needs, and I might have even been daring enough to walk away from things that made me unhappy, but a deeper introspection made me realise that I continue to hesitate to take agency over my life.

I’m guilt-ridden every time I do something for myself because what gives me happiness isn’t usually something that society approves of. It’s an undeniable truth that most Indian women can relate to.

This could be major decisions like quitting a job and planning a startup venture, starting or ending a relationship, or even an everyday decision like wearing clothes of our choice or taking some time off to reboot.

Society often places certain expectations on women, which creates pressure to conform to cultural roles and norms. This leads to hesitation in making decisions that deviate from social expectations.

Things That Make Women Feel Guilty

Amidst the myriad of things that women hesitate to make decisions about, here are five that the majority of women can relate to.


Financial Decisions

There’s a stereotypical belief in society that women are bad with money. But lest not forget women have been managing household budgets effectively since eternity. Patriarchy has just embedded the belief that handling money isn’t women’s responsibility. However, learning to handle finances is a life skill. Women need to be financially independent. It’s not just about making money; true financial independence is when women are empowered to efficiently handle their own money.

Family and relationship decisions

From getting married due to family pressure to having children due to social expectations and quitting a successful career due to an unhealthy work-life balance, women tend to give in at some point. Considering society’s belief that only marriage and motherhood complete a woman, taking unconventional decisions is hard, but women need to if that’s what makes them happy. It's okay to do things at one's own pace, as long as you're happy with the decisions that you've made.

Saying No

From denying the husband's sexual advances in the bedroom to calling it quits on a relationship, women struggle to say, "No!" It takes so much strength, willpower, and practice to master the art of saying no, but when you get there, there's no turning back. Women are aware when certain things, people, places, or situations make them uncomfortable, but they find it difficult to say no because they were raised by preaching the mantra "adjust and compromise." But it’s time we replace the mantra with "no."


Travelling or staying alone

The moment a woman says that she wants to travel alone or move to a different city and stay alone, people around her panic. It’s usually because a lone woman is considered easy prey. But how long is that going to be the narrative? We all know of at least one man who lives alone or ventures on solo trips. But how many women do that? Why aren’t we doing that? Only when more women do it will it get normalised, right?

Me Time

Along with milk, women have also been fed with the thought that they need to prioritise others over themselves. They are made to feel guilty for taking time for themselves due to the unrealistic social expectations of being nurturers and caregivers. Women are ingrained with the notion that self-care is selfish, and they are conditioned to believe that they are being selfish if they prioritise themselves over others. But it’s high time women overcome this mindset, understand the importance of self-care, and set healthy boundaries.

Suggested Reading: Bound By Silence, Financially Independent Women Too Face Abuse

Views expressed by the author are their own

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