Identity Of A Woman

Image Courtesy: cloudfront.net

“Women can’t have it all” said Indira Nooyi and I could not agree more with it.

As a working professional who quit work to embrace motherhood full time, I have gone through moments where I have wondered, “What defines us?” Are we defined by our qualifications or positions held, or are we defined by our relationships or are we defined by our material possessions? Or are we hostage to all of these. These thoughts arise more often when people around me judge my decision not to work.

Life is a journey and we are defined by the experiences that we have during this journey. Whether these experiences of life were good or bad depends on perspective.

There are a lot of women I come across in situations like myself, who are not happy with their situation. Lot of working women with kids back home are not happy. Again, it’s a matter of perspective towards the choices that we make in life.

For a woman staying back at home there is a whole new array of avenues to explore. Be it being active in kids’ schools, cooking, painting, writing, meditation, you name it and a newer experience is awaiting you. Every experience teaches us something in life and makes it richer and more meaningful. The fact that you are not currently in the workforce does not subtract anything from your identity except a paycheque. Not only do you have more time for yourself now, you also have time to add to your skills, and of course you have more time for your relationships. I always used to say this jokingly “If I die working, my company will hire someone else, nothing will stop”. I am not indispensable to my work but I am indispensable to my loved ones.

For women who continue working, be thankful for the support system (and in most cases it is extended family) that allows you to do so. It isn’t easy balancing the struggles of work and home, but you have been able to ebb the tide, so thank God for it. It’s quite heart breaking to choose between your child and your work and if the support system is there to help make the choice, you are blessed. The experience of having a family and the support system of loved ones adds a nurturing and accommodating perspective to your work life as well.

However, in our endeavour to carve a career for ourselves sometimes we forget “no one on his death bed said, if only I had more time at work”. We forget to give importance to what really matters – ourselves and the people around us. Do what you do because you like doing it and not to prove a point. I am all for women empowerment, but I also feel that in our endeavour to be empowered and financially independent, our nurturing roles have taken a back seat and it is the nurturing aspect that is a woman’s USP at the workplace and also one of the reasons for her success in multitude of corporate roles. But again, that’s my perspective.

Whether you work or you have quit, everyday is a struggle and everyday you battle uncertainties -whether you will achieve your goals at work, whether you will get back to work, whether your kids will appreciate your decisions later, its endless. A stay at home mother’s struggle is in no way less than a working woman’s and vice versa.

But instead of lamenting about the limitations that having a family puts on us, why not appreciate the fullness of life thanks to a family and loved ones. We fail to appreciate the richness of experiences that we have with family alone. And if there is any doubt in my statement try spending Christmas vacation alone in Europe.

To sum it all we are defined by our experiences in life. Everyone chooses a different life journey. A woman who chooses to stay back is not a failure at the workplace while a woman who steps out to work is not a failure back home. We are playing the balancing act while juggling our multiple roles.

One of the main reasons for so much chaos in the world is that we have stopped accepting and have started challenging each other more. Change comes with us and who better to make this change than the ones who bring life to this world. Let’s be more accepting of each other’s choices and less judgemental.

I have always felt that a life less extraordinary is in some ways more fulfilling. I will delve into this in my next post.

About the author:

Monica – is a consumer insights professional based in Mumbai. She has worked with FMCG organizations like Colgate Palmolive and Reckitt Benckiser in India and Coca Cola and Unilever in the UK. She has also done stints with organizations like Nielsen, Hewlett Packard and the Lodha group in India.

She took a maternal break and is currently freelancing with Nykaa.com and also running her own startup called Ubicon, wherein she intends to connect with people through the virtual medium for garnering insights.

Apart from work, Monica loves barb-e-cueing, networking, swimming and yoga.

(The author is a guest blogger at Her Second Innings. The opinions expressed are those of the author.)

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