Beyonce and Diana Ross on loud speaker – now!
It sounds like we all need to be parading around with Diana Ross and Beyonce on loud speaker on our iphones letting our hair down and wearing superhero outfits, but that is far from the true reason for International Women’s Day (IWD).
To all those people who didn’t or don’t really understand IWD, I’ll let you in to a secret. I didn’t either. Not till now.
There will be people out there in shock reading this, as I am someone who has always fought stigma and stood up for equality. I have always believed in fairness for all and is the first to help anyone that needs support.
But when it came to myself… I am a mouse. A self-sacrificing mouse.
I never thought I needed ‘a day’, why did I need a day? I am doing alright, I don’t need to celebrate me, I just need to get on with it. I mean, yes women are strong, powerful and yes we are all GSD’ers (GSD = Get Shit Done). But for some reason I never thought we needed a day.
Last year, as many people already know if you listen to our Podcast or know through the grapevine, I had my second mental breakdown. It pushed me to a place I have never been before. A place I have never addressed in any therapy I have had in the last 15 years since the first one. The breakthroughs and realisations I have had this time around have been so significant I have re-evaluated my whole existence, and not for what I am in life, but for who I am to me.
I always gave myself a task to single handedly take on and save the world. That would make me a good person, and I would be happy with that. But not till now did I ever understand why. My self sacrificing wasn’t to achieve martyrdom or for attention, it was for me and only me. I recognised women were amazing, I recognised that we can stand up and together we are powerful and resourceful but for some reason none of that knowledge infiltrated my compulsion to sacrifice myself. It was all about others.
Women for so long in so many different cultures, societies and circumstances have always sacrificed themselves for the greater good. I don’t need to list examples, I am sure you can think of 100 quicker than I can type them. But it is so true. We have been brought up to self sacrifice. Some of the most incredible women I know give every single fibre of their being to what they are passionate about, whether that is work, volunteering, hobbies or their personal lives. I tell them 100 times to take time for them and to stop putting others before themselves and that having time for yourself is crucial in today’s stupidly manic world. Do I follow my own advice? I’ll let you answer that one for yourself as I am sure you see where I am going with this.
Why???? Why can I tell every other person I love that they must put themselves first, but I can barely hear myself when I am telling them and just totally ignore it like my 1st morning alarm. Admittedly this is still a work in progress and my psychologist will agree with me when I say this, but years of conditioning myself into a routine of self sacrificing requires a hell of a lot of unpicking. I am not there yet, and it takes a lot of harsh truth to realise it and bravery to try and accept it. There is an constant battle in my head, “You are doing good to help others, whats wrong with that”, “You want to support others in the way you would want to be supported”, “If I am a good person, karma will come and reward me”, “I’ll just do this one thing to help them out, then I’ll start being more selfish”… any of this sound familiar? I know I am not the only one out there who does this.
Changing the norm.
How am I trying to change the self sacrificing into self caring? Its hard, slow and complicated. Don’t under-estimate what 30+ years of self sacrificing can do to you! But the key part is recognition. Knowing when you are doing something that is self sacrificing and that is the first step. Its ok if you don’t stop it, just be aware you are doing it, and as an after thought, think what you could do next time that would mean you are still helping/having an impact without sacrificing yourself.
We are amazing. Women are incredible, but I can guarantee even today on International Women’s Day when there have been 1000s of inspirational events and empowering campaigns running that even more women have sacrificed themselves to help more women realise their potential.
This is the reason I am glad we have IWD. To recognise all women, and all that we do. And how every day we fight stigma, prejudice, inequality, but most importantly with our own inner battlers. Those voices in our heads and those conditions that we have grown up with that have given us the fearful question marks instead of the assertive exclamation marks and the over compassion that makes us put others before ourselves.
And as always here’s my Spotify empowering celebrating us playlist for International Women’s Day: