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Society expects women to be a certain way, but it’s okay to be selfish at times, it’s fine to be happy, and it’s perfectly alright to live our lives for ourselves.
My mother often cracks lame jokes. But this isn’t about her lame jokes. This is about a time when she was in her grave and thoughtful demeanour.
One day, possibly trying to grill us siblings, she asked, “What are your achievements in life?”
My sister, who is always badass, threw the ball in her court instead. She gave her a piece of paper and pen and said, “Why don’t you list down your achievements first mummy?”
Still deep in her thoughts, my mother took the paper and started writing. We were thrilled yet anxious to know her answer. Finally, she stopped writing and showed us the paper with a sigh.
“This is all I have done in my life; rearing the three of you,” she said in a melancholy tone. All that was written on the paper were just three names, my sister’s, my brother’s and mine. Not that she is proud of us any less, but her longing to have a life for herself was obvious.
I’m not just narrating some conversation with my mother, but a deep rooted issue in our society: how women are made to believe that they have this inherent characteristic of sacrifice. Women are deemed to be happy with their Sisyphean tasks; the household work and the child rearing.
And this sacrifice comes in various forms, sometimes even without us realizing.
A woman might leave her job to look after the kids, or to let her husband’s career flourish, or sometimes for the sake of family. This sacrifice can also come in the form of a woman continuing a job she doesn’t love because who has time to switch jobs?
At times women stop thinking about their dream career and give up on their aspirations. There certainly are a few examples around of women following their dreams and living on their terms, but those are only a handful of examples. A larger lot succumbs to societal pressure.
Women are gifted with innate worthiness. It doesn’t make sense to let it go in vain.
It’s time to stop being the sacrificial lamb for the society. Society will glorify our martyrdom at first. Make us believe we have made the ultimate choice for our family. And then crush us at once, and let us feel worthless.
And I completely respect those who prefer a family life over career, when it is their choice and not someone else’s decision or even suggestion.
In fact, I too left my job to look after my little one. But that didn’t mean I stopped living or dreaming. I took it as an opportunity to explore newer things, to discover my passion, to discover myself, and I am still in the process.
It isn’t fair reducing ourselves to a mother, wife, sister, daughter and daughter in law alone. We women don’t need labels. We are a women of substance, strong headed, dreamer and with self belief.
Laying the foundation of our family on our crushed dreams and lack of personal space will only make our lives miserable. Let’s steal our time, nurture our dreams, and travel the world, sing, dance, and laugh. Do whatever makes you happy. And you will be amazed to see that your happiness is contagious.
People will criticize you for your choices and call you self centered. You will be judged even if you take a day’s break from your duties. But don’t budge.
It’s okay to be selfish at times, it’s fine to be happy, and it’s perfectly alright to live our lives for ourselves. Living a little for yourselves doesn’t mean you don’t care for your family. It means you are not denying yourself your right to your life. So go out often, drink you coffee while it’s still hot.
Image source: a still from the movie English Vinglish
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Neha Mishra has been a software consultant and a technical trainer for six years. When
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