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Saturday, May 18, 2024

What is the essence of being a woman?

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Entering the Women’s Month with a reflection.

At 39 and navigating through life as a single adult, I often find myself subjected to teasing or scrutiny based on norms that dictate what it means to be a woman. The pressure to conform to traditional roles of being a wife and a mother weighs heavily, casting shadows of doubt upon those of us who have “yet to meet” the expectations.

Being single and childless in my late thirties has sparked valid concern from well-meaning acquaintances and loved ones, who seem to perceive the single status as a deficiency, a lack that needs to be urgently addressed.

From being suspected of setting my standards too high when it comes to men or jokingly questioning if I am straight, I know I represent a large percentage of women placed in awkward situations. I have lost count of how many times I have received the suggestion to have my eggs frozen or nudged to give online dating a try and “be open.”

In a world where single ladies are still labeled as “leftover women” in some countries, the essence of womanhood is hidden beneath judgments. No matter how progressive and westernized we claim to be, the Philippines still holds on to a lot of prejudices.

A woman’s worth is not defined by the standards of society but by how they embrace who they truly are

Almost brainwashed by tradition, I was offered a fresh perspective on the topic by a recent encounter with a new friend. This friend in her mid-twenties, bravely facing life with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, a rare condition leaving her without a uterus and an underdeveloped vagina, shatters the conventional narrative of womanhood. Her strength, resilience, and positivity in embracing her identity serve as a powerful reminder that womanhood transcends marital status or reproductive capabilities. She thrives in her chosen career and basks in the kindness and love of her family, friends (Her best friend is willing to be a surrogate for her one day!), and a partner.

Womanhood, as I have come to realize, is defined by the depth of our purpose, the eagerness to touch lives, and the ability to nurture our relationships. It is about making a difference in the world, big or small, and creating happiness for ourselves and others. I observe the women in my life and I see their innate ability to bring warmth and compassion to every interaction.

To limit women within the confines of marriage and motherhood is to deny the numerous levels and areas of our existence. We are creators, innovators, leaders, and nurturers. Our worth lies in our ability to embrace our authentic selves and pursue our passions and aspirations.

Womanhood bears multiple definitions, with each one’s unique journey warranting utter respect and appreciation

While it is true that many single women struggle to beat their biological clocks and evade the shame of being tagged as “old maids,” many wives and mothers also wish to have the time and freedom of a single woman to pursue the things they want. As we have often been told over time, the grass seems always greener on the other side.

It is about time to challenge the notion of a woman’s worth. True fulfillment comes from unapologetically embracing who we are sans the dresses and the makeup and pursuing the things that bring us spark. Whether it’s shifting careers or immersing in creative pursuits, womanhood is all about honoring our core. This is the cue to ask ourselves: What makes me feel alive and want to do more?

This is the time to celebrate the experiences that make up womanhood, recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all or cookie-cutter definition. It doesn’t matter if a woman is single, married, with or without children, each journey is uniquely her own, worthy of respect and appreciation.

Happy Women’s Month to all the ladies out there! For your random thoughts, e-mail the author at randomrepublika@gmail.com.

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