Growing up, I went to an all-girls school and got to know about their aspirations subconsciously. I used to live around the corner of my school and most of the time, I would walk myself to my school.
While I was just a child who only hit the age of puberty, I was cat-called, not knowing what it meant. Bewildered and confused, I had no one to ask questions or I did not know whom to turn to. So, I tried to find refuge within books and journals of all sorts at that time.
I did not know what mental health meant; it was not a subject many knew about. Growing up in a traditional setup and mingling with only girls at school always gave me a sense of "not being enough".
The dreams and aspirations many girls had in my class seem to get jaded as they approached their early 20's. The girls who were highly motivated to become something on their own seemed to get moulded with the dream of settling down with a man, preferably someone who would be their saviour or act as a safety net in the long run.
The sense of insecurity or the thought of not being enough gets instilled in women through the media, stereotypical gender roles and the non-recognition of household chores our mothers usually do throughout their lives.
In the name of sacrifice and overly glorification of our mother's household contribution, most women start to think that serving others and being subservient will ultimately shape their identities. The life goal of most women thus is entrapped in seeking validation from others to fulfil them. In turn, they forget to stand on their own in this patriarchal society.
The idea of "not being enough" lingers throughout life for most women. The more they remain voiceless in the face of mental and physical abuse, the more glorification they receive.
Sometimes the meaky inner voice that gives us direction in the face of doubt and fear gets shunned by the idea of "not being enough" in women.
The phenomenon of not being enough and getting married at an early age or even during the late 20 only creates more confusion and anxiety as the "not enough" monologue was not resolved before they enter the new endeavour called marriage.
For most women, marriage is seen as less of companionship and more like a safety net in a patriarchal society. Therefore, for most women, it is an escape route to comply with societal norms and avoid the stigma of being tagged as a "spinster". After that, the idea of motherhood slowly creeps in, whether or not she is ready for the lifetime venture of caring for a child.
Patriarchy is harmful towards women in achieving their true potential. It also damages men's latent potential in achieving their dreams as they always have to carry the weight of earning more and providing more for the family.
As the inner monologue of "not enough" stops women from stepping out of the stereotypical gender role, it also puts an extra burden on men to be the sole provider for the family.
On the contrary, if a marriage is seen as the true companionship among two capable adults, where they see each other not as a rescuer and each other's providers or servers, but as lifelong companions, only then can the idea of the holy union between two people truly be gratifying and bring out the best in both.
Charity begins at home and therefore, women's inner dialogue of "not being enough" needs to be eradicated from an early age. To attain that, our parents, mostly our mothers, can play a vital role.
Growing up, a child absorbs gender roles subconsciously. Feeding them with positive affirmations will, hence, make them a rational adult down the line. This affirmation goes both ways for the male and female child they will complement each other rationally and sensibly as they grow up.
This could be the start or foundation of building a well-balanced society for our upcoming generation where no woman has to wait for a knight in shining armor to rescue them.
Furthermore, this will help create a society where men will have the option to realize their suppressed dreams to become whoever they want to, not just to only carry the load of being the sole contributor to their families.
Sayeda Karim is an independent researcher working on environment, climate change, and gender. She has done her Masters in International development practice from Monash University, Australia.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.