It’s not easy being a woman.
Consider the expectations regarding how you’re supposed to behave or the judgement that follows. Be kind, nurturing, and gentle, but don’t be a pushover. Stand up for yourself, but not too much (or you’ll be demanding, nagging, aggressive, or a bitch). Be independent, but not too much. Be sexually available, but not too much or too little (or you’ll be frigid, or a slut). Be the ‘right’ weight- or no one will value you. Get married and have children- because that’s women do.
The decisions women make or don’t make often result in judgement, or some type of questioning which has judgement hidden underneath. For example:
- Why did you stay in that relationship? Why didn’t you just leave? (The judgement: You should have left)
- Why did you put up with the sexual harassment? (You chose to let this continue)
- Why don’t you have children? (Women should have children)
- When will you have kids/try for kids? (You will have children at some point)
- Why did you say that to your boss? (You shouldn’t have said that).
- When will you get married? (Women get married)
- Why aren’t you breastfeeding? (You should be breastfeeding)
- Why are your children in daycare? (They should be home with you)
- Why did you go home with him? (You shouldn’t have done that)
- Why are you getting so worked up? (You shouldn’t get emotional)
- Are you really going to eat that? (You need to lose weight)
- Why did you let them say that or do that to you? (You shouldn’t have, it’s your fault for ‘letting’ this happen)
And honestly, the list can go on.
These imply that something is wrong with you, or wrong with the decisions that you make. It also assumes that your choices need to be justifiable and understood by others. And of course, when you endure a lifetime of questioning, what happens is that you internalise the judgement and doubt. You question yourself before others can. Is this ok? What will others think? Is this valid? Am I justified in this? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I handle it better? And this drives your insecurity higher so that you lose touch with what matters: Yourself. Your wants, needs, and values. Having your own life be one that you’re happy living in. Doing the things you enjoy. Make decisions you’re comfortable with, or strong in. Parent how you want to parent.
See if you can take a step back and observe those self-criticisms that swirl around in your head. Consider where they have come from, and how much weight you want to place in them. Judgement doesn’t enrich, it diminishes. The odds are that you’ll face questioning from others regardless of what you do, so you may as well make decisions that fit with your life and what matters to you. Remind yourself: You’re doing the best you can with what you’ve got. Taking care of you and yours in a manner that you’re happy with is the best thing you can do. Why not demonstrate that there is more than one way to do things…
And whilst you might need to take a few deep breaths along the way… You can do this, Sista.