“I don’t think I’m attractive enough.”
“I’m exhausted from looking after the kids.”
“I’m stuck between having a baby and putting it off to pursue my career further.”
Thoughts like these are what make women unconsciously discredit themselves. These very insecurities become so strong that they consume their entire being. A big reason for women feeling this way is how they feel the outside world views them and their “place” in society. Women are constantly bombarded with (mis)information about the standards of beauty or how much harder we have to push ourselves in the workforce and other areas. It has been ingrained in our psyches that we must look good and work even harder to achieve what a man has achieved. We have been told that we have to make ourselves look good to attract a mate, that the work of a housewife or a mother is not ‘really’ work and we are made to feel doubly guilty if we ‘put off’ marriage and motherhood to ‘work’ outside of the home. This societal pressure can invariably lead to feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety and depression in women.
Has the work of feminists been in vain? Surely thanks to the struggles of these passionate women over the decades women have been able to do “so much more,” right?
And womenfolk should be grateful for this. But is the “struggle” really over? Or do we fight with ourselves daily to be the ‘absolute best,’ so much so that we neglect the fact that we are actually doing “pretty okay” and that we should from time to time cut ourselves some slack.
Trying to change the way society views women would be more than a herculean task but as women we can start to change the way we feel and think about ourselves. Doing this will lift self-esteem, self-confidence and give the ego a much deserved boost. Here are some steps you can take to challenge your insecurities when they arise:
*Love yourself – You are beautiful just the way you are. Each one of us is unique and there is nothing more beautiful and sexy than a woman’s confidence.
*Give yourself more credit – Whether you work at home or in an office, or you’re studying or you’re still weighing your options, give yourself a pat on the back from time to time. You’ve come a long way and you’re doing a fantastic job.
*It isn’t always about the money – When choosing a career path, try to focus on what you love and are passionate about. Don’t let money be your guiding motivation. Just remember that if you do what you love then it isn’t “work.”
*Not everything is a competition – Don’t compare and compete with others. We should not have to compete with each other or with our male counterparts. We all have a pivotal role to play in whatever capacity we choose to place our efforts and even though we may not always get the recognition we want, that shouldn’t stop us from recognising our worth and the value of what we bring to the table.
*Stop caring so much about what others think about you – Most of the time we lead ourselves to believe that people think or feel a certain way about us when in fact it’s really the way we feel about ourselves. Even if people do have something to say, don’t allow that to hamper you in any way. Focus on doing well and remember that stopping to worry about what others might think of you will only hamper your progress and growth.
*Take some time for yourself – Do something you enjoy. If you can, take time away from the kids or from your job or from studying and remember that a revitalised you means not only feeling better about yourself but it will also result in greater enjoyment of the things you do.
*Plan for the future – You can have your cake and eat it too. You can put off having a baby (if you even choose to be a mother!). Remember that marriage or motherhood isn’t for everyone and if you choose to focus on your career instead, then that’s your choice. Don’t allow the opinions of others to guilt you into doing something you either don’t want to or are not ready for.
And never forget: You are strong! You are beautiful and you are worthy!
Alicia Roopnaraine is a Psychologist at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation’s Psychiatric Department. You can send questions or comments to [email protected]