The Modern Woman: Selfless Giving and Unappreciated Living
Maybe it's you.
Maybe it's your mom.
Maybe it's your best friend.
Maybe it's the woman in front of you in the grocery store.
We all know that modern woman who gives until she's worn out, frizzy-haired, and exhausted.
I would argue that we are all that woman to some degree.
We give to our families, cooking and cleaning after a long day at work.
We give to our children, clothes, support, time, and love.
We give to our students, answers, encouragement, exciting opportunities.
We give to our friends, our cashier at the checkout, our dentist, our doctor, our mailman...a smile, a friendly hello, a conversation when we're just feeling like basking in silence.
From the time we're little, we're taught to be caregivers and empathetic thinkers. We're taught to help and give. In the modern generation, though, we've also been taught to succeed and accomplish.
Combine the will to achieve with the instinctual desire to give, and what do you get?
A lot of tired, exhausted women.
What do those tired, exhausted women get in exchange, though?
The Desire to Be Appreciated
Don't get me wrong. This isn't a pity post. This isn't a "women are underrated" or "women are undervalued" post.
For many of us, we devote our lives to achieving and giving simultaneously because it's what makes us happy. It's what helps us find our place in this world. There's nothing wrong with that.
However, there is a slight problem with this lifestyle--the need for appreciation.
We all feel it from time to time. It creeps in when we least expect it.
The snotty remark from a child. The eye roll from a friend who thinks your job is easy. The complaint from the husband that the laundry is behind.
It's human nature: people only recognize what we haven't done, not what we do.
This, however, can be frustrating for the modern woman wearing her Wonder Woman Cape and trying to do it all.
It's one thing to put your own needs and desires on hold to be successful and help others.
It's another when someone doesn't even notice all of the work you're putting into everyone around you.
As humans, we crave appreciation from time to time. We need to know we're recognized, even if it's just a smile or a thank you. We can't all get Oscars or Nobel Peace Prizes after all.
Too often in our society, though, appreciation is a hard thing to grasp. We live in a "give me more" society. Appreciation, especially for others, can be hard to muster up.
Finding Your Own Appreciation: An Emerson Viewpoint
So what do we do?
Stop being giving? Stop devoting ourselves to our careers, our children, our families, and everyone in between?
I mean, it sounds appealing sometimes, but I like Netflix, chocolate, and shoe shopping too much to go out in the woods and hide in a tree house in solitude.
The answer, I think, comes from Emerson.
We must learn to listen to our own heartstrings. We must learn to appreciate what we need, what makes us happy. We must value ourselves for who we are, good and bad, shortcomings and all.
We must learn to look to ourselves for approval, for satisfaction, for happiness. We must learn to give ourselves a pat on the back from time to time, to recognize ourselves, to appreciate our own feats.
We also must take time to do what we want to do, to soothe our own souls. We must stop worrying so much about what society deems is a successful role for women. We must sometimes stop worrying what everyone around us needs. We must find our own sense of place, sense of satisfaction. It is only by appreciating and valuing our selves we can find that in others.
This week, students wrote tributes to the people who impacted them the most. I was floored by one student's response.
He wrote a tribute to himself.
He wrote that at the end of it all, good or bad, he was the one who dictated his life path. He was the one who took the most pride in his successes and hurt the most from his failures. He wrote that he has important people in his life who have helped him along the way. At the end of it, though, he must be his own biggest support.
I thought it was genius. Many in society would deem this viewpoint selfish. I loved it, though.
How many times do we really stop to be our own support system?
How many times do we stop to celebrate our successes and our talents?
There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness, true.
But from time to time, we need to stop and appreciate our own worth, our own contributions to this world.
We must find a sense of appreciation in our own soul for ourselves. Otherwise, all of our successes, accomplishments, and devotion to others is pointless. If we are not living from a place that satisfies our own being, then we are not truly living the life we are meant to.