I know, I know, I know. The title of this post sounds anti-feminist, anti-woman, insulting and offensive. I intend none of that…I really only mean to be provocative. Women are wonderful, beautiful and deeply complex creatures. We are unique because most of us feel so deeply, because we are so in tune with others, because we are hyper-aware of others needs. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by intuitive, intelligent, and strong women who know who they are and what they want. However, a pattern I have noticed with myself and these amazing women in my life is a sense of obligation to others over oneself.
A text I received the other night was from a crazy cool friend of mine who had signed up for an 8 week class with one of her friends. The friend bailed, my friend was tired from having been traveling extensively, and was possibly moving out of town. Her text said “I feel guilty about bailing and nervous about going and I just want to stay home and watch TV. Am I a bad person?” My response was a resounding “F NO. If you don’t want to go, don’t go. Why stress yourself out? I can’t give you permission to give yourself what you want, but I can reflect back at you when you’re asking yourself for it.”
I’m not sure what makes us, especially as women, feel so beholden to our commitments, so guilty for shucking responsibilities, so “wrong” for changing our minds. Again and again, I have women who come to me with problems, asking for advice, looking for a solution, when what they are really asking for is permission to do what they truly want. You decided last minute you don’t want to go out? DON’T DO IT! Cancel. If you’re going out with someone who’s worth anything, they will understand and figure something else out for themselves. Need some time away from a guy you’re dating? Ask for it! We’re always concerned about others’ feelings, which is important, but so often in the process, we forget ourselves.
I am asking women to reclaim themselves, their wants, their needs. I am asking women to give themselves what they want and need, to figure out a way to give it to themselves. I am not married with children, and I imagine it is harder to do this when you are obligated to other people. But no one is exempt from figuring out a way to give herself what she wants, even if it’s only for 5 minutes, or an evening. Although sometimes it feels like it, the world will not fall apart if we take a break or take care of ourselves. And in the process of doing this, we are better able to come back and show up for others. We just have to show up for ourselves first.