Smart, talented, bright women, settling down early in their lives used to irritate me for unknown reasons. I used to think it was because I thought they were fools, playing with their lives, sacrificing, giving up on all they could have had. Later I realized, it was because I was scared. I was scared that they were doing the right thing. And I was scared to admit it.
I used to see them all around me: on Facebook, walking down the streets with their toddlers, on TV shows, as real-life celebrities. I would tell myself that the radiant smiles on their faces were plastic, that the baby in their arms was actually a pain in the ass, and their husbands might be cheating on them. And I would be content enough for a few hours and would again find myself wondering at night: who is actually living it right?
When I could bear it no longer (I go crazy when I am missing out on some information), I talked to one of these, a friend: twenty-three year old, married, not working anymore, with a toddler. She fit my profile. And I had questions. “But what do you do the whole day?” I came to the point, rude as I am.
“You know those times when your favourite show is coming up and you can’t watch it because you have an exam the next day? Or you want to plan a date and you can’t because you have an interview coming up? Or you want to take time out to upgrade your playlist but you have major assignment to finish from work? I can do all of that. Every day,” she smiles.
“But, but, how does that fulfill you? Don’t you ever feel the need to do something with your life?”
“This is fulfilling me. Taking care of him, his parents, his home: it all feels mine now.” Needless to say, she happens to be a bit dramatic.
“But what about a sense of achievement? What about doing something new everyday?”
“I know what you mean. Like, when you work on something new and your boss praises you? I know how ecstatic it might feel. But it can’t compare to what I feel everyday as I watch him grow, you know?’ I didn’t. ‘I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“But what about having your own money? Your own resources? Claiming your independence?”
“Why do you need all that money?”
“So I can do whatever I want with it?”
“I am doing whatever I want.”
“But how can that make you happy?” I was exasperated.
“Somehow, it does. And that’s the whole point.”
I was silenced. And however much I try to refuse it, try to put her statements in the trash called “Emotional Crap By The Married Woman,” I could weirdly, somehow, relate to all of it. Maybe that is because: To be settled, to belong, to care, to nurture: is one of our oldest instincts, as women. The ancient humans used to live in caves. The females used to stay in the caves and feed the children, care for the elders, cook food. The men used to do the “manly stuffs,” whatever the fuck that means.
So, what’s wrong with women today choosing to do what they were “born to do”? (Here of course, is when you all start hating me, especially if you are hardcore feminists.) But I am not here to gather hate. I am not against all the women who choose a different path, who choose to excel in a professional field, who choose to put their careers before their personal lives, who choose to carve a way for themselves that is independent and self sufficient.
I salute them. I respect them.
What I am merely against is all the hate against women who don’t choose to do the same.
I am against labeling their decisions as ‘easy’ or ‘dumb’. I am against putting them down as women who couldn’t survive the corporate rat race the others are surviving. Because maybe they could, and they chose not to.
I am against the Facebook-Game-of-Thrones where lives are compared and people are categorized on the basis of the choices they made. Where the Game of ‘who did better in life’ never ends.
I am against judging others’ emotions of love or motherhood as “weak.” Like I always say, don’t judge something you have never felt. Because the moment you judge, the moment you put someone down; you lose the so-called-Game anyway. If you had felt confident about the path you chose, you would never had compared in the first place.
I am against stereotyping “successful women” or “real women” as those who are independent and travelling the world/who are juggling their households with their professional lives/those who are Doctors or Engineers or Astronauts or whatever other high standards they have put for women to be successful these days.
Travelling is beautiful, I admit. But staying in one room for an entire week with someone you love can be just as beautiful.
Work is fruitful. To build a home, a space for yourself and the people you love, can be just as fruitful.
To casually prance around different men every day can be exciting. To discover something new about the man you love every day can be just as exciting.
I am against two best friends from college, sitting for coffee, ten years later, having the following thoughts:
- A: Of course she is not happy! How can she be. She does not have a man to go home to, the fucking spinster. No children to love her. What good is travelling the world if she has no one to take care of her when she is old and dying? OR
Damn, she must be so happy. She is travelling the world, she can be with any man she wants, she does not have children to weigh her down. I wish I were in her place!
- B: Of course she is not happy! How can she be. She sits at home all day, doing nothing but slaving after her family. Look at her clothes! Her husband must not be giving a shit about her, her kids must be total assholes. I am so glad I am not her. Of course all of her Facebook family pics are fake. They must be fighting all the time otherwise.
Damn, she must be so happy. She has a home, a family, someone to sleep with every night and someone to wake up to.
So, the point is, there is never one, definite way of living it right. The only choice which is sure to make you a “real, successful woman” is the choice to respect everyone around you. CHOOSE to be happy for them, CHOOSE to be happy for their achievements, CHOOSE to be happy for THEIR choices.
CHOOSE to be happy when you see a picture of her holidaying in Bali alone, reading a book, enjoying the sunset. CHOOSE to be happy when you see a picture of her holidaying in Bali, running after her children into the beach sunset, her husband running after her.
And mostly, just CHOOSE to be happy for yourself, as you read this. Because more than others’ decisions, be proud of yours. A collection of all the decisions you ever made, brought you here. Made you read this. Choose to be happy.