We women, by nature, are communal beings. Nurturing, caring, and loving are all termed as feminine qualities and rightly so. We have always been givers rather than takers. And sadly, that has become the only accepted aspect of our personality over time. And when we do dare think about ourselves, we come across as selfish women.
Instead of being known as an individual, we represent someone’s daughter, sister, wife or mother. We become so much wrapped up in carrying out the duties and responsibilities of these identities that we forget that we are someone too. And even if we remember, we don’t do it without a sense of guilt.
An year back, I received the following video clip on Whats-App. It is actually a promotion for the book called “Oil For Your Lamp” by Lisa Hammond and B J Gallagher. But it talks about a essential truth.
The book mentions:
Mother Teresa said, “To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” Most women are so busy filling the lamps of the people they love that they let their own lamps run low. They spend so much time and energy taking care of their children, husbands, aging parents, friends, neighbors, bosses, coworkers, and others, that they often neglect themselves.
When we are sick, we try out home remedies instead of going to the doctor. We carry out all of our responsibilities in-spite of ill health. We give up our own dreams of having a career so that our husbands and children can have fulfilling careers and education. We give up pursuing our hobbies and passions so that our families can have all of our spare time. We continue with our dissatisfying jobs so that our families can have satisfying lives. We make small and big sacrifices so that our loved ones can have it all. We confine ourselves to boundaries and we actually forget that we have the right to ourselves too.
Since birth, we have been conditioned to believe that we are born to give. That to think of our own happiness first is selfish and narrow. That we are meant to make sacrifices, adjustments and compromises. And this conditioning defines our choices and lives. Those of us who choose not to stick to this conditioning are termed as rebels and unladylike.
Instead of being happy first, we try to find our happiness in others. We believe that the only way we can be happy is by making others happy. But we cannot be more wrong than this. How can we make others happy when we ourselves are hollow and empty? How can we light up others’ lives when our own lamps do not have any oil?
But what is our oil? Our health is our oil. Our friends are our oil. Our favourite writer is our oil. Our favourite televison sitcom is Our oil. Our wardrobe, our music, our garden, our hobbies can be our oil. Our education or financial independence can be our oil. Even our salon time or nap time can be our oil. All these things have the power to make us happy and content. So I believe that happiness is our oil.
So ladies, take out time to do what makes you happy. Believe me, you cannot spread happiness unless and until you are happy yourself. If reading makes you happy, read. If singing makes you happy, sing. If watching a movie makes you happy, watch. If painting makes you happy, paint. You want to travel, do it. You want to have a career, pursue it. You want to make a difference, start it. For what makes you happy, is your oil. And to keep your lamp burning to spread light and warmth, you need your oil. So be courageous, think about your well-being too. And to do it aloud.