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Finding the Real You

  • Bindu Tobby
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  • 18 Feb 2017
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It was on a random morning, around five years after giving up her successful career in advertising (to look after her twin babies) that Sonia was joggled out of the daily hullabaloo with a jolt — the thought that her life had been revolving so tightly around her roles as mom, wife, and homemaker that she had unconsciously snuffled out the individual that was her, from her own life. She didn't remember her interests, likes or dislikes anymore; there was no time for pottery or painting, she hardly met or kept in touch with any friends. She had morphed into a stranger who had not kept in touch with her inner self.

Does a woman, even in the current day context of marriage in India have to face a rather complex choice of either giving up her identity in terms of career, higher studies, and hobbies or face self-guilt coupled with a society that smirks at her irrepressible need to realize her dreams and potential? Does her Laxman-Rekha only allow her to exercise unlimited freedom within the starched confines of her husband's work hours, children's school timings or in-laws' schedules? Does that, then, make a fiercely individualistic woman a misfit in the scenario of marriage?

Programmed to be so?

Says Prachi Sharma, who works in an MNC, “Of course, all around me I see married women who tend to lose themselves while trying to be the ‘perfect' wife, daughter-in-law and mother. My mother is a home-maker and I have never seen a time till now that she doesn't put my dad's or my interest before hers. And growing up, I always thought that's how a happy marriage is supposed to be. I don't ever remember seeing my mom doing something just for herself! We all get programmed like this since childhood.”

Preeti Pais, a mom of two, agrees: “Of course it is hard work for the woman who is the multi-tasker of today, who wants to maintain both her family identity and work identity. Personally, however, I feel it is definitely possible to retain your individuality while being part of a ‘married whole'. ” She adds, “I think it also totally depends on the kind of partner you marry and the kind of person you are – you can either be submissive by nature or can be willing to work hard to retain your essence while compromising with your partner and then you enjoy a synergistic relationship”.

Bringing in a very different perspective, says Ashwini Gupta, mom of two, “Losing individuality is not a bad thing. While a woman may be brought up to pursue individual excellence, she can, after marriage, learn how far collectivism and teamwork goes. I am a big believer in teamwork and even joint families. Although the way it operates may be skewed, it can achieve wonders when each member looks to ‘give' rather than ‘receive'. Also, as you move from individualism to collectivism, both professionally and personally, you are more enriched.”

Says Sai Balakrishnan, who is currently pursuing her PhD from Harvard University, “I agree that marriage and child-rearing are very necessary for the growth of an individual — all the togetherness, friction and disagreements are necessary to smooth out all our selfish, ‘I-centred' traits and make us more giving individuals.” She adds, philosophically, “A great analogy on marriage is it's like putting two rough stones together in a jar and shaking it. At the end, the stones are smooth and perfect. But in almost all marriages across the world, the women give a lot and get ‘too smoothed out'.” This is endemic in cultures across the world, except maybe in some gender progressive countries like Scandinavia”.

Of course, giving (in the act itself) is enriching, fulfilling and rewarding and most of us women gladly give up so much of what we are, once wife-hood and mom-hood come our way. But, after a point, if the giving means losing our entire personality, along with our self-esteem, leaving us feeling empty, then that's definitely a wake-up call for introspection.

 

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About Bindu Tobby 

"I'm a mom to two (11 and 8-year-olds) and working for the last 2+ years in Corporate Marketing in a leading IT company in Bangalore. My husband took a sabbatical from a demanding sales role in another leading IT company for about a year, so I could get back to a full-time career, post my 5-year break. We now manage our careers and kids together, and each day is a new adventure."  

This blog was originally featured in The Hindu Metroplus in 2011

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