Being Women

Hey Women, Love Thyself

It’s seen that women have often ignored their own selves for the family. They are in a constant war of taking care of everyone else, even when they aren’t in the best of their health. Women do need to take breaks and find out how they can make things easier for themselves where they actually take care of themselves and their dreams.

“Back in our days, all we could think was about home and children. How do you manage so many things?” a random conversation with a distant relative and I realised that it was turning somewhat invasive. 

Isn’t it odd? Such conversations are pretty normal, right? You know sometimes it’s a tad difficult to converse with some elderly people who think they know it all. Assume themselves as the most experienced one and now it’s mandatory to share their ‘Gyan’ with the world. 

I usually ignore such statements but not always. You just can’t let go off these things so easily. I asked her, “What about yourself? Where do you place yourself amidst all of these?” She replied, “As a woman, you can’t be selfish.” And she continued to narrate stories of how her body was ailing but she never failed to meet her ‘responsibilities’ to her family.

Gradually, this conversation has started to feel more like a taunt and probe session. Or maybe I took it too personally. Or maybe not. But I can’t be in denial mode to what I have been hearing often. 

I find it very difficult to understand how being a sacrificial lamb at the altar of roles and responsibilities defined by society can be someone’s claim to fame. I have often witnessed that constant scuffle by women to be the epitome of sacrifice and duty by giving everything up for others – time,  food, sleep,  aspirations, basically the entire life. 

From sacrificing the bigger piece of cake for the siblings to keeping the last slice of pizza for the kids, from giving up work and getting married to appease the family, to giving up jeans and shorts to appease the husband, from giving birth to making the in-laws happy, to making lifestyle changes to keep the society happy, women seem to take pride in making sacrifices. 

We all have this tendency to give up things for others, believing that it is the ultimate way to prove our love, care and concern for our near and dear ones. While there is nothing wrong with nurturing, loving and caring, it becomes an issue when we don’t know where to draw the line. We don’t realize the fact that while giving up things, we give up a bit of ourselves too. 

In the process we become empty. And how do you keep pouring from an empty cup? Nothing can out of nothing, right?  

The ‘Empty Cup Syndrome’ is a reality. Yet, we don’t want to acknowledge it. We women are constantly trying to be everything convenient to others except trying to be ourselves. In the process, we neglect our health, our mental wellbeing, our careers, our finances, our passions, our priorities, our wishes, our aspirations, and everything else. We are busy taking care of everything else! 

You need to restore and refill your cup. This is why it is pertinent to practice self-love and self-care. 

“Oh, but you can’t be selfish”, you may be bogged down with this statement. But remember this, how can it be selfish when you are empowering yourself to be better, live better, love better, give better and nurture better? 

“Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.”, these words by Parker Palmer, American author, educator, and activist sum it up all. It is the foundation from where you start. From self-love and self-care, emanates all kinds of love and care for others. If you are doing well enough and are strong enough, you will be able to cater to everything and everyone around you. 

Now, if I ask you, “What do you do to refill your cup?”. Well, this is not just a question to all of you, but it is something I keep asking myself too. Your answers could range from nothing much to something or at least trying to. Take a moment to reflect on your life and see how and when you are making yourself a priority. 

Start by doing things that you feel are good for you. If you want to continue that job while being a mother, do it. If you want to wear that dress, wear it. You want to travel solo, do it. You don’t want to get married or you don’t want to have a kid, don’t do it. You want to eat the last slice of pizza, so be it!!! 

There will be questions, there will be challenges, there will be struggles, there will be unsolicited advice, there will be heartbreaks, there will be many other things that will be creating hindrances, things that will make you feel guilty, or question your decisions. You may say that it is easier said than done. Yes, situations differ, people matter and social conditions deter. 

But who says that life comes easy. There will always be divergent roads and difficult choices.  Consider these as speed breakers. It may slow you down but cannot break you if you fortify yourself with that love, care and faith in yourself. 

It is not just your responsibility to take care of everything and everyone. People who love you and who deserve a place in your life will understand you and enable that space where you live, love and nurture yourself too. 

It is not just the broader picture or bigger decisions in life that matter. It is also about finding those little joys that make you happy, that make you feel alive.  Go take that stroll in the park, listen to that music that lifts you, dance to that song, read that favourite book, take that sudden trip with your friends, scribble in your journal or do whatever you feel like doing. 

Putting ourselves first doesn’t mean we are putting others last. It is a shared space where we all live our lives and co-exist. Lord Buddha’s words resonate perfectly at this point. “You, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” 

Yes, my dear women, love thyself. Do it now if you haven’t started. For this is how you love all that is around you. For this will tell others how to love you.

By Ankurita Pathak

Ankurita Pathak is a writer, occasional poet, TEDx speaker and a seasoned communications professional with 15 years of experience. A former journalist, she is currently working with FICCI as Joint Director. She, along with her brother has recently co-authored a coffee table book titled “Black Coffee & Metamorphosis”. She can be reached at

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2 Responses

  1. Amazing .. wonderful .. very much relatable .. although find it hard to practice but seems very convinced

  2. Very thoughtful compilation I believe.
    I could easily relate to almost every thought weaved in here that how my grandmother, mother, Mother in law..somehwat of me 😛 also are always in a quest to challenge ourselves a way trying to prove that come what may we will do it & as a fallout we neglect, delay & become oblivious of personal well-being.
    Probably they are conditioned in a way where self care comes as a guilt and non- fulfillment of self assigned responsibilities.
    So, yes its time to pause, think & reflect…you hv great responsibilities of work, family, children but of yourself as well 🙂
    Loved reading this !

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