When I ask my women executives to describe a satisfying life, they often envision a scenario in which they want to please their bosses, mother in laws or husbands. Strike a perfect balance between work and life. According to me this is where the trouble starts.
I’d like to tell them this concept of work life balance is a false dichotomy and you can stop beating yourself up trying to achieve it. After all why do you think you need it? Because someone else said so…
I think the society has divided our lives into Professional- The Bad Life & Personal-The Good Life. And as women we put ourselves through so much pressure just to strike the right balance. My answer might surprise you but you need to give yourself permission to not be perfect. And trust me there’s nothing wrong with it.
Take an example of Angelina Jolie…For an actress whose career is tied to her appearance, yet here Angelina is telling the world she is not perfect in the most dignified way. And mind you, removing her breasts as a preventive measure does not make her any less of a woman!
The whole façade ‘to have it all’ is just another obstacle to pop up in front of women to add some guilt. There has to be times in everyone’s life where one aspect takes over the other …it’s more of how you manage. No one should make you believe that you need to do something because that’s the right way to live life. Especially in the society where the definition of women empowerment is mind boggling! For some it is a part of government slogans and a permanent fixture in every political party manifesto and for quite a few it is the concept of heavily decked up, husband centered glamorous figures of the saas-bahu serials. And to top it all our films, ads, beauty pageants and daily shows have created women icons who are no more than beautiful thoughtless beings.
I wonder why even after so many laws protecting women against domestic violence, dowry, and harassment women to choose their own journey, sometimes choose to turn their back on the very ideals on which their freedom rests.
Breaking the tradition idols like Angelina Jolie and Sheryl Sandberg have challenged the world with their thoughts and actions and have given birth to the New Womanhood Inc.
Women usually are the health decision makers of the family, they will hold their children’s hand while taking them to the doctors, make sure the grandparents are taking medicines on time but put their own health issues at last. But thanks to Angelina, I know so many women who have started giving a thought to take care of their own health. Her willingness to talk about the issue has generated awareness and created hope while empowering women – that’s a huge seismic shift according to me! It takes more than bravery to come out in the open and discuss about your personal health.
Agreed, we have women in top notch positions in corporations, government and academics, yet what they do remains elusive and have failed to create any meaningful arguments on sexuality, the family, or professional choices. But as a woman in Silicon Valley, Sheryl Sandberg did; was to change the dynamic. With ‘Lean In’ Sandberg has armed women with the tools and guidance they need to reach their full potential. Though nothing comes without a price I guess and there’s much hullaballoo and criticism against the book. However, I think the argument, the limelight is all good because where we were before was stagnation and sometimes it takes more than good intentions to wake people up and find a solution. At least, it has brought the issues in the forefront.
It’s amazing to see how Angelina and Sheryl have spurred action and progress among women. They’ve created debates and discussions and made women & men take notice. Their forward thinking, contributions, desire and action to make a positive impact amongst the society in which they live is an inspiration to many of us. But there are lessons to be learned from their examples.
While penning down my thoughts I can’t stop thinking about Angelina’s words.
“Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of. “
And I wonder yet they say ‘It’s a Man’s World.