You see my scars, and you think you had a glimpse of me when I was at my weakest. I see the same scars, and remember when I had to be my strongest.
A woman’s beauty is her strength and grace during her most challenging days. It is not in hiding, but showing her scars where her true strength lies. To show the world what she has been through. Be proud of your scars and of who you are.
You think the arch in my back is because of my age. It is the result of the weight I have carried all my life because I am a woman.
From a young age, women carry the weight of the opinion and expectations of others. Be a good girl, a good daughter, a good sister, a good niece, a good friend, a good student, a good wife, a good mother, a good aunt, a good granddaughter, a good woman. If she trips even once, she is deemed to be a failure.
Time has hardened the once soft hands that have spent years cleaning up after the mess other people leave behind. These tired hands continue to do the same.
Take a look at your hands and listen to the stories they tell you. We spend most of our lives cooking, cleaning, and taking care of others. We put others and their needs before our own. It is okay to get exhausted from always looking after others, and to prioritise yourself once in a while. I thank my hands every night, for everything they continue to do for me.
You heard as I tried to soothe your pain and cheer you up at every step, but somewhere along the road, I forgot to speak for myself as a woman.
When I was young, my teacher told me: “Girls are to be seen and admired, not heard.” This shaped my early years. I never really spoke up in college or grad school. For the majority of my life, I stayed silent and kept my opinions to myself. It is only now that I am taking baby steps to speak up, but I still struggle. If I do not, no one will ever know. To all the women out there: it is our right and responsibility to speak up for ourselves and others.
My eyes were taught to see the truth and beauty in the world. But I have kept them closed too long in the face of injustice, sadness, and pain. I must open them now to seek change.
Years passed, life happened. I slowly stopped fighting for my dreams, goals, and rights. I started to lose the fire I once had. I once wanted to advocate for myself and other women, but before I knew it I had begun to give up on those lofty goals.
Closing my eyes to the world does not stop terrible things from happening. The first order of business is to open them, and observe for what they are to start the arduous journey of making changes.
My ears yearn to hear the sweet sound of happiness all around me. I am tired of listening to all the hate, anger, and sorrow. Listen to me when I say this: we are all in this together.
Ours is a generation that likes to talk but lacks the patience to listen. Your voices need to be heard but this is a reminder that it is also important to give others a chance to talk and listen to them carefully.
Make it a habit to listen to others, not just the sound of your voice. Support other women. If we keep tearing each other down, it will be impossible for us to rise together.
Anjana Rajbhandary writes this fortnightly Nepali Times column LifeTime about mental health, physical health and socio-cultural issues.