Women’s day came and went again. My mother called me to wish me too. It’s funny how I’m still surprised when someone calls me a woman. That tells me we still need a day for women, because women spend all their lives trying to be men, so that men don’t accuse them of playing the ‘woman card’. In a world where being a woman is treated like an excuse, we spend all year trying to fit into the man’s world and proving to them that we can do what they do, never asking the same of them.
So I ignored women’s day. Lately excitement has been lacking and perhaps that’s because of work. Who knew self-care is also work? Taking care of myself is getting to me, but in another two weeks I’ll be home, where I can enjoy my space, the sun and eat my Mum’s delicious food as opposed to my bland make-shift food only used to keep up my energy. I can safely say my cooking only serves to fill my stomach.
In a way I’m trying to say I want a break from myself. I get tired of things quickly, that’s always been a problem of mine and I am now losing interest in myself. With piles of books around I am swimming through work and trying to make sense of big words and theories. I pretend like I am sure of myself, I’ve become quite good at that.
But, I realised that I haven’t had a panic attack since I got here. I used to live from panic attack to panic attack, a routine of breathlessness and exhaustion. Of course I have found myself standing on the edge multiple times, I get the sinking feeling in my stomach. Yet, I don’t feel the need to puke. I can go about my day without feeling like I can’t carry my own weight. Now when I think about it, it was torture. Nobody should have to live like that.
My parents sent me a photo of my published poem, it’s strange to see it, there in a book, between covers. Of course, it’s one poem barely a page but still it’s there, it exists. I can now say it’s a good feeling, a year ago it would have freaked me out, it would have felt like pressure but now I can take a compliment without crumbling. It’s because I had internalised inadequacy, always expecting an insult like a “guy in a girl’s clothes.”
I hope apart from the ads, the multiple posts about femininity and feminism, women took a moment to see themselves as worth it. Worth the effort they put into their lives. Even now there are parts of me I dislike, parts of me I’ve internalised as ugly or inadequate. Maybe it’s the world or it’s me, but I am working to change that and it would have been easier without the standards of beauty I saw in school or the world at large.
I want to celebrate little things. My therapist told me I should compliment myself every day. I laughed, it felt silly and childish. Now I realise what she meant. It’s not self-indulgent to see yourself as deserving. When I feel like I haven’t done enough now I can tell myself, “you did what you can.” I’ve learnt to control the stress over details. These small changes have brought me huge comfort.
I write a poem a day, without fail to express myself. I know I am not as regular with the blog, and I apologise but I guess I am still learning how to juggle multiple things. It’ll fix itself, in time. These ropes are becoming easier to hold, before they left callouses. I feel like I am learning to write again, to put one word after another, scratching out words, erasing all of them and starting again.
Our lives can become claustrophobic, sometimes staring out of my window in this busy, cosmopolitan city I wish I saw the rooftops of Bangalore, where buildings aren’t tall enough yet to block my view. We go to bigger cities hoping to find ourselves, but all we find are other lost souls.
The majority of our lives is spent searching, and the rest doing. There must be something more, shouldn’t there be? This is the case for both women and men. But as a woman, the doing will be the majority, not all women get time to search. If you have time to search like I do, you belong to a certain privileged class. If you aren’t privileged, then you fought to earn this time to search.
We don’t talk about these little things do we? We hesitate, because we don’t want to see another eye roll, hear one more person saying, “Why do you always talk about gender inequality?” We’re so afraid that we’ll be shamed. But I won’t stop talking about it, because it’s been hard. I’ve seen it happen in school, in college, and even as I worked. It bothers me. It bothers me that we want to pretend like being a woman is no big deal, it’s a big deal because we made it so hard to be a woman that now it is a big deal whether we like it or not.
I don’t blame men for that, I don’t blame women either. It should have never come to this where we need a day where it’s okay to talk about women. How bad did we let it get that now we need such a day? And when this day comes, we do one of two things, ignore it, or post about it. I know it’s too much to ask for, but can we just treat women equally and just get rid of this once and for all?
Is it so difficult? For how long must we try to be men? For how long must we prove that biology doesn’t hold us back? For how long must we fight for an equal share and be treated as humans and not objects? Can we also walk with confidence, sit comfortably and stay out late? Of all things I find it ridiculous that it’s biology that is our barrier, and for as long as it stays like this, women will have to live as, “a guy in a girl’s clothes.”