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It is important to ignore the sarcasm and taunts and judgements to rebuild yourself and embark on this painful but rewarding journey!
Before I start the article, I would like to add a note of caution. Read this only if you have the guts to ask yourself these questions and embark on the journey to discover the underlying truth. I promise this journey will be rewarding for sure, though a little painful.
How much is too much to take? Right from ignorance to hearing harsh words to making absurd statements to constant judgement and criticism to sarcasm and the shattering of self-respect, all of us have experienced at least one.
How did it all start and when? It may have started with a small joke where someone made a joke out of your personality. But come on, you’ve got to be a sport so you took it graciously.
Or it may have started when the first few harsh words hit you. But you were told not to whine about it, so you gulped it all down silently and bounced back with a smile. Meanwhile, your heart was crying in pain and silence.
It may have started when the sarcasm came your way because unfortunately, you didn’t behave as they expected you to. You told yourself, ‘Come on! Sarcasm is only a flavour of humour. Take it with a pinch of salt. They didn’t mean to hurt you, they love you, don’t they?’
It started when they began judging you for every single second of your life that you spent with them. They were well-armed with all possible labels they could tag you with.
Let me give you a simple scenario here. If you call home during office hours, it means you actually don’t have much work to do at the office. It basically means that you only dress up, go to the office, sit in air-conditioned rooms and sip coffee with your peers.
And by now, it is implied that you can work from home when you are actually working from home during office hours. At the same time, if you don’t call home, it basically means that office and work are all that matter to you. And that family means nothing to you.
Wow! Imagine that. The pressure of deciding whether or not to make a call to your own family!
Is it fair to put so much pressure on us simply because we are women? And after all this pressure, if we breakdown and cry, the cute label of ‘cry-baby’ will be awaiting us. That is the label that comes with us since we’re born. Didn’t you know, ‘girls always cry?’
It started when the labels started walking your way and you unknowingly wore them and even believed they belonged to you. Why you ask? Simply because you trust the label givers (read: your own people) more than yourselves by now.
An example of these labels would be being called any of these – lazy, immature, childish, unorganised, overly-emotional, clingy, and impractical, among others.
You accepted these words without realising they were becoming a part of you and your identity in their eyes (subconsciously in your mind too)! Because as a woman, you are conditioned not to raise your voice, no matter what, especially when you are supposed to be playing certain roles.
It has started when the ‘criticism’ walked to you with a very ‘positive’ prefix. Can you take a guess what this prefix was? If you said, ‘constructive criticism,’ you are absolutely right! How can we not bow down to this now?
As a strong and open-minded person, you told yourself that this is good and it’s just feedback and definitely not the bigger concerns. So you took all these with your head held high and exposed your vulnerable side to them. You trusted them to protect you and started working on yourself.
In fact, you never questioned them. You believed they were right simply because you trusted them like you would trust your family. What you couldn’t see was that quite often, you were contributing heavily to your own deconstruction.
Why is a woman’s self-respect conveniently labelled ‘ego’ while for a man it is his ‘self-respect’? Should they really be colour-coded like ‘pink for girls and blue for boys’? Why is the male ego treated like it is your pride but the woman’s self-respect is only looked at as arrogance?
And yet, we convince ourselves by saying that it is fine and that it happens or that it is all a part of any relationship. Why do we do this? Is it because society deems it to be so?
Women are rarely ever allowed to raise their voices. They cannot have self-respect either since that’s how things have been for ages now. Is it because our elders taught us to suffer everything silently even though it was wrong?
Or is it because we were taught to only give good things as long as we lived? Is it because we are conditioned to endure whatever comes our way while being silent and smiling all the time?
Women are constantly told that they are ‘home makers’ and not ‘home breakers.’ Does this mean we need to lay the foundation of this ‘home’ with our own self-respect, self-worth and identity as the bricks?
To the outside world, the home needs to seem perfect since that is all that matters at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter if the people living inside the house are suffering or happy and respectful with each other.
Is it because Mahatma Gandhi told us to offer the other cheek when someone slaps you on one cheek? He may have been right, in that context, maybe with enemies but not with your loved ones! His statement, in that context, was to make peace and stop violence in that period of time.
However, it doesn’t apply to every single situation. Having said that, we conveniently use these proverbs and sayings in the wrong context and convince ourselves to accept the wrong things that we don’t deserve.
Should all these things really be a part of any relationship? Don’t both the people in the relationship deserve to be treated as equal partners? Should they not respect each other for the person they are instead of changing each other just to be comfortable according to their needs?
They are always trying to fix us like we are broken. But the more they hammer us, the more we seemed to break from a fine structure into a million tiny pieces. Now I am not sure that all these pieces can be joined back. If yes, will they be able to reconstruct us to the original person that we were? A big no! They won’t.
There is no looking back now, the only way is forward. I urge everyone to show gratitude toward people who contributed to your deconstruction, including your own self. It is now time to follow the ‘Kintsugi’ approach. This is a Japanese art where broken ceramic items are reconstructed carefully by using gold, silver or platinum.
It is time to pick our own pieces up and reconstruct ourselves into a fine new structure. A structure that is ‘new but not naive,’ ‘powerful yet humble,’ and ‘innocent but not stupid.’ It is time to be stronger than ever. The breaks, the scars and the repairs are now a part of history and that is the foundation for our future selves.
Let us break this chain with complete humility and fix ourselves to create a better society for the next generation. We need to lay a foundation where the basis of a relationship is acceptance and the pillars are trust, love and mutual respect and the bricks are empathy and compassion.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Badla
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An experimental writer by soul, An Engineer by profession, A free spirit by heart!
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