Do You Need To Take Permission To Make Your Choices And Live Your Own Life?

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Woman are usually expected to take permission from the husband/father/inlaws/extended family to do anything in life. How long are we going to let this continue?

In the words of Dr Steve Maroboli, Behavioural Scientist & Author“The only permission, the only validation, and the only opinion that matters in our quest for greatness is our own”.

Yes, so true. But, is it true for the typical Indian women, a wife, daughter, mother, sister, daughter-in-law etc.?

How many of us can declare that we are totally free to live our life as we wish? I accept that we are interdependent and we should care for others, but not at the cost of one’s own happiness.

Of course, we have come a long way away from inhuman practice of Sati where the wife’s life ended along with her husband’s. Widow remarriages are no longer taboo. There are stringent laws against female foeticide (even though it still happens). We have overcome the bias towards females in respect of education and equality, to some extent.

Yet the ideal equality and freedom is yet to be achieved. Especially the personal freedom of making a choice to live one’s own life, as one would want to. Instead of taking our own decisions about the small and big steps in our life (maybe in consultation with our families) and informing them of our final decision, we are seeking approval and permission.

Why take permission?

Sometimes, it is not just family who has to support us in our decisions, but also our near and far relatives and the whole society too! If you defy this practice and start questioning, there are always the rules and justifications like

  • “You should be responsible towards your family.”
  • “In our family, women are supposed to follow this code of conduct.”
  • “Girls should dress like this.”
  • “Do not stay out after dark, what if something happens to you?”

And if you do not toe the line, there are subtle abuses/ blackmail like,

  • “Is this what your parents have taught you?” (typically said by in-laws or husbands).
  • “This will bring shame to our family, we will not able to face the society if you do this.”  
  • “I will die if you do not listen to me!”

and so many other such rules and admonitions, to keep you in place. Though more and more women are wishing to come out the clutches of restricting practices, the moral policing is on the rise.

Log kya kahenge?!

Should we need to just take their opinion/inform our family, or should we take permission to come home late, to spend our own money or to take up a job in a strange city? Sadly in most of the cases, you have to take permission or sometimes cajole and beg for it, from your family, who in turn have their own way of judging and imposing.

Many times, the family will first worry about “What will people/society say?” instead of giving their honest opinion. Who are these people or society? No one visible. It is an abstract concept. Thus, the so called permission granters are many – father, father-in-law, mother, mother-in-law, husband, son, extended family – to name a few. Not to forget neighbours, relatives etc.

Dictating norms

So many norms are dictated for women, and decided by the above people.

  • The kind of dress a women should wear.
  • The symbols of marriage to be worn by her like sindoor, mangalsutra etc.
  • The type/length of the dress she wears.
  • Up to what time she can stay out.
  • In whose company she can spend this time.
  • What job she should take up.

These are all stipulated by these ‘well wishers’.

Just why do women care for these strictures?

Why don’t we turn a deaf ear to the restrictions and start living and enjoying our life? In the Indian cultural set-up, I believe, women are suppressed and subdued due to the upbringing and by observing the restrictive norms in society. It is ingrained from childhood that you are not free to think and act as per your wishes, but to be more conforming and subservient. Owing to all this conditioning, we have forgotten to take our own decisions regarding our life.

Enough of this already!

How long can we go on like this? Seeking permission and approval at every step? We have to realize that one need not sacrifice too much or bend backwards just to please the others in your life, which will ultimately lead to resentment and bitterness. Our lives will become stifling and meaningless with so many shackles.

It is high time we give ‘permission to ourselves’ to let go of inhibitions, otherwise we will start resenting those whom we love. We need to declare our personal freedom and live life with enthusiasm. It is possible.

So how do we start?

All along if we are used to  others’ stamp of  approval, , how do we start giving permission to ourselves?

Ms. Priya Rana Kapoor in her book, Give Yourself Permission to Live Your Life, elaborates on this. “I use the concept of giving yourself permission to describe what happens when you decide and allow yourself to do what is best for you, whether that is saying no to a needy friend, taking care of your immediate needs so you can be more present with your relationships, or sometimes even allowing yourself to think about what you might want to do with your life”.

Your wish may be as simple as dancing in the rain or big aspirations of scaling the mountain peaks. Do not stop yourself when the idea comes or when you have a dream. Start small, take that first little step. The rest will follow.

Live your life!

After all it is one life, your life, so make the most of it. Fill your days with challenges, achievements, joys and thrills. The little independent streak is present in us which we ignore most of the time leading to an empty void feeling. That spirit is to be nurtured. Just try listening to the small voice and respond to it and you will be amazed to feel the lively energy it brings forth. You will look forward to what each day brings. You will realize it is these small things that bring the greatest joy.

If you are happy and contented you will naturally bring happiness to all those around you. Just declare your personal freedom and believe in yourself.

Personal experiences

To narrate my own experience, I always went to movie halls along with family or friends. One fine day, I badly wanted to watch a particular movie but nobody was available to accompany me. At the spur of the moment, I decided to go alone and went! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and felt a great sense of freedom. It served like a milestone for getting over my inhibition and that simple incident made me realize, I can do anything I would love to.

In another instance, a friend who never ventures alone much, outside her home, and feels guilty of giving in to her personal wishes, decided to indulge and  celebrated her 50th birthday, by going out and treating herself to a delicious icecream, all by herself.

Just do it…

So dear sisters, why not treat everyday as a special day? Ideas may spring up, like trying a new hair colour, going on an all womens’ trip, trying a new haircut, changing your wardrobe, wearing a bold dress, starting a home business, taking up a new job, training for a marathon etc., Take your pick and go ahead.

Any small and big wish is important…Just make a wish!

Let us raise our voice a bit, let us take baby steps
Let us find our confidence back, let us realize our own strengths
Let us find friends who will encourage , let us be supportive of each other
Let our wings start to flutter, Let us sing aloud together

As the Bacardi song goes….Be what you wanna be…!

Image source: pixabay

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