Dear Anxious Superwoman,
I am a so-called "super-woman" just like you. So I'm going to get real straight with you right now. I'd like to believe, rightly or not, that I’ve earned the right to ask you - "Who the hell are you kidding?" Unlike the lazy patriarchal hypocritical stupid men around you - who try to bring you down every second of every passing day of your life. That includes some insecure women too, to be brutally honest but most of us feminists try to overlook that part. So, I’m going to do exactly that now.
This letter is about you and me. It’s about being honest to yourself - telling yourself “I’m not perfect and it’s okay”. Trust me, through you, I’m telling myself this. “Abhineeta, breathe. As a woman, life is tough for you already. Don’t make it tougher by being Ms. Do-it-all. Take responsibility but don’t put a condition on those duties that you have to be perfect in every single aspect of life.”
Here, let me paint you a picture now.
You're a doctor with a kid who can do simple addition. You're up at the crack of dawn, shelling pomegranates for the snack box, making sugarless and sugary coffee for whoever needs it, obsessing about why the maid is late, ensuring collars are stain-free and cuffs are ironed, speed reading morning prayers, skipping breakfast, getting stuck in traffic, listening to audiobooks so you can pass your next exam, saving lives at work, ensuring human error doesn't creep in, fighting hospital politics, trying to get lunch for your stomach and petrol for your car at 1 pm, yelling at your assistant for double-booking appointments, getting berated by the same assistant for the backlog in your waiting room, coming back home to a grumpy husband who'll ask "Current bill nahi bhara?"
And you're doing it all.
You are a housewife with two teenagers. You are up before your father-in-law, you have a system for how the newspaper should be folded and placed on the coffee table, everything is overly clean and organized in your house, your plants, pets and in-laws fed and watered on time, you have a better idea of what should go into your husband's business trip luggage than he does himself, you're finding a way to tell your little rebels what they ought to do in life without being talked back to, you're the relationship manager and point-of-contact for the extended family, obviously, you're also cooking, you're checking if there are holes in anyone's underwear, and sometimes, an ass**** asks you, "Tum roz ghar mein baithke kya karti ho?"
And you respond with a smile.
You're an unwed career-woman who is bordering 30. Your parents don't care as much as the rest of the world does. You are doing ten times the work in somebody else's startup than your male counterparts, your sleep cycle is fu***ed at best, your fertility and sexuality almost don't exist, you have no freedom to dress like a woman because people stop taking you seriously the minute you do, you keep telling everyone that "the impact" you're creating with work is far more important than being someone's wife, bye-bye personal life, you look at Facebook memories and suppress your youthful exuberance further. Meanwhile, your parents are now treating you like the ‘man of the house’. You are supporting them through their retirement, you are the protector and provider of all younger siblings, you are also the primary caretaker of the elderly, and none of this is happening in any predictable order. Then your boss says, "I want this by tonight" on a Sunday.
And you do it gladly.
So, first of all, did you even know that it's not your job to be everyone's backbone? Sure, the world is not friendly or accommodating to any woman outside a kitchen, but since when did it become your agenda to be everyone's donkey? And how can you even be gullible enough to fall for that "super-woman" trope?
Listen, lady. Being a leader doesn't mean you get on a leaderboard where you complete the maximum number of tasks. Look at the men around you. Literally the last time they lifted a little finger was when they had to do susu in school. And by the way, did you notice that men don't measure their leadership status by how much work they get done overall?
I know that not a single person in the world (including your mother who raised you to be fully independent) took off their patriarchy-tinted glasses to teach you that it doesn't have to be this way. Don't break your back just to be some ungrateful ass****'s backbone.
You want to be a leader? Be the kind of leader who makes leaders around you. And if people have a real difficulty to life their little finger, it's probably arthritis.
Doing it all might get you some admiration. But don't do it at the cost of hating and losing yourself.
You know what I mean?
Until when will you keep selflessly doing things for ungrateful people and also feel guilty every time you said ‘No’ for a good reason? No means no, and before we teach them that, we should teach ourselves to own the hell out of that term.
Yours truly and faithfully,
One of you.