Being a woman isn’t easy in a men driven world, especially when past generations were and still are encouraging young women to accept compromise or even favor different types of “sacrifice” for the sake of others ( career, family, ambitions).
It is wrong to presume that only in some parts of the world women are taught to bear things stoically because our mothers, grandmothers did so, to hold inside our emotions or sufferance, to keep secrets, to dismiss discussions because of subjective connotations for the sake of a maternal image of being compassionate during hardship. It has become a worldwide trend to idealize self-sacrificing women or mothers.
All the while there is very little or no notice of the woman that’s crying inside, drying of life or dying of one’s soul when most intimate feelings are repressed.
In web images we see examples that aim to empower us, women, stereotypically, that forget to mention how important it is to talk about or shape our emotions, or about those things that matter to us, things often times we experience being ignored or rejected not only from the people around us but also in society, to open up and talk about our vulnerabilities, our unmet needs or wishes, or rights.
Currently we still see protests and women struggling to have their voices heard and listened to, as there still are constructed images of the woman that produce confusion in one’s inner world when, frequently, the authentic way of expression isn’t encouraged to be publicly present compared to pre-established models of behaviour. And it is not surprising as we function easier with stereotypes, we enjoy being comfortable and to be able to recognize the behaviours of those around us, it makes us feel safe, as novelty seems scary and there is a tendency to label it as “unfitting”, marginalizing it. But in this comfortable space, without giving a second thought or trust for the better, aren’t we encouraging lack of freedom of expression or rather … oppression?
What I have experienced in my 20’s was a ten years journey to my 30’s of soul searching, usually feeling dissatisfied, unhappy with my culturally constructed self.
I learned over the years that who I am has nothing to do with the labels I attach to myself, even when I choose them and refuse to allow society to label me according to necessities, as describing myself I use character traits I choose to wear, depending on the requested situation. When we want to adhere or “fit” into a social group we tend to become alike, so we can receive a warm welcome, at least that’s the aim. Under all these fabricated layers or created images, or aspects I put on or take off, there is so much more, one can only try to express throughout the entire life journey.
One of the most precious lessons I’ve learned, and painful, was that friendship is built through time periods, cycles of development, when one experiences various situations and thus becomes able to comprehend not only the value of freedom of choice, but the complexity of one’s personality. Some aspects of other people may not be compatible with yours and for that you get to choose who are the people you surround yourself with.
Respect comes when we respect our own being, by establishing boundaries. Privacy, intimacy, the time spent with our own reflection in a mirror where we’re honest with ourselves is a perfect way to learn about those intricacies of a human’s personality and it is a precious investment.
Time is relative and in this very moment, when you are reading this and I’m doing my daily things, we will never return, therefore it is in our own interest to choose wisely with who and how we spend it.
Generosity starts when we allow that inner voice to speak to us, in a healthy dialogue, then allow the people around us be heard. Everyone has the right of free speech and free will. It is painful to hear or witness things we wouldn’t want to but each person alive has full rights over their own life. To listen is an art which requires a lot of practice. Moreover, hearing someone’s words is easy but understanding the subtle message that person is trying to put out is something else. Listening to someone comprehensively, I, personally, find this a detachment from my need of being right or proving that I know or am entitled to those phrases, opinions or things I may be feeling I am. It is like an acceptance that maybe, at some point, we can transcend that urge of individualism and just be present.
Related to this, I like some of the Bible’s teachings, I can’t say I am specialized in hermeneutics, I read with the eye of a curious reader and interpret things based on my limited perception, as the Bible is the top sold or read book of all times, but some just speak to my heart. It goes somewhat like this…when you become non active in your own way or will, you leave space for God’s will or way of dealing with things. I interpret it as the best chance for things to be done or happen from a broader point of view that sometimes we miss because we are too focused on our own perceptions. Life is an immense web of feelings, situations, people, moments that can easily be missed by a set of senses. As an analogy I could bring up Jesus Christ’s acceptance of the will of God which I find similar to the Zen state of acceptance. Serenity could be a synonym.
I’ve learned that looking for happiness without accepting the present moment, chances to find it are extremely low. I learned that after so many shopping sessions, weird relationships, time spent among groups I had nothing in common with (except, maybe, vices), all the while telling myself repeatedly that I am happy, refusing to accept that I was chasing “happiness”. But everything in this life has a special purpose, even our worst days. We learn so much through our personal challenges, as painful as they come. Our fears teach us about our presumed limits, where are we vulnerable, what, maybe, we don’t want to accept, what can we do to work on those features we would like to do so. Life is dynamic, complex, stormy and sunny with unexpected blizzards. Nature and life’s unpredictability is what makes us be in awe with the gift of life. But sometimes we forget that, I forgot it for a long period, as we pay attention to the constructed world we have built ourselves, or one where possessions or fulfilled desires play the main role. It is wonderful to have things tidy, nice, comfortable, it is even more wonderful to find that tidy, nice and comfortable space inside of each of us regardless of what happens in the outer world. Could this be one of the meanings of the things we experience?
When was the last time you did something as a choice of your heart, free, without expecting a sort of reward?
Did it put a smile on your face? Or make your heart filled with joy?
Health means asking your body how does it want to be treated rather than deciding for it. It is our bodies that will take us everywhere we want to go. I still have my ups and downs during sensitive days of the month when I compromise with sugary sweets, although I drastically reduced sugar intake on all food products I come in contact with. In my 20’s I drank a lot, partied until 7 am and slept very little. Food wasn’t a concern until I hit 25 and had a wake up call from my immune system. I steadily worked my way to being healthy but it took me years of commitment, although the drinking part I took out of the list completely at the end of March 2016.
Sleeping hours I found to be a benefactor. After my restless period in my 20’s I found myself in a hungry state of recovery and reconnection to my energy supplies. I found that the unconscious mind is related to the night period, the time when we are closer to ourselves, our essential ideas and feelings that do not surface during day as the conscious constructed or learned patterns are active in day time. I found comfort in sleeping and a way to reconnect to that unexplored world, with no rush, just patience and peace. Regeneration of the body is intense during sleep and rest is a necessity.
Relationships… hummm… I could write a novel about this. I’ve been through and talked about this subject for years with people around the globe, that loneliness feeling at times either as a result of the choice of separation, singleness, or loneliness whilst in a couple. Personally, I’ve learned the hard way that fairy tale expectations come at the cost of my own sufferance (when the myth dissolved along with hope), that the only true relationship, unchangeable, and that can become rock solid will be between mind, heart and soul/spirit. Because we owe ourselves to be honest and follow our own path and that may not coincide with another person’s and compromise just prolongs an ending we might be fearing to accept. Nowadays I see partnerships functional as long as the parts involved are committed to learn about their differences, invent a way or ways of understanding one another, where there is equality and not a distorted power relation.
It is a challenge to stay faithful to yourself, your values, and don’t settle with less than that which treats your soul, of course, when you commit to finding out what that is.
That being said, it is an interesting business being a woman, if you’re curious,
I wrote more about this subject here.