What comes to your mind when you think of a South Asian “Super Woman”?
Do you picture her in a saree, salvaar kameez or in that red & blue onesy?
How you answer this question may give you an idea of the challenges that each of us women are facing in balancing our versions of the East and West in Canada.
Do you wake up in the morning feeling stressed, overwhelmed and even more tired than the night before? Do you feel as if you are being pulled in many directions everyday? If you are; you are definitely not alone!
Research indicates that increasing numbers of women are feeling even more overwhelmed than their previous generation. Our modern day family dynamics have become very complex. So what is going on here? Is our sense of what is ‘ideal’ or ‘perfect’ not realistic? Are women juggling too many tasks? Can this be why women are ‘stuck’ feeling guilty, incompetent, insecure, and simply stressed out?
Although things are changing for Canadian families, changes in South Asian families in Canada are even more subtle and gradual. Our families are becoming more complex for many reasons. For one, our traditional values, roles & expectations are simply not keeping up with the Westernized version of these aspects. And balancing our cultural heritage with our Westernized identity is not easy. Finally, South Asian women in more ‘traditional’ families are still taking on most of the commitments and responsibilities of household chores. Some of these include: cooking, entertaining, child rearing or parenting and grocery shopping for the household. In most cases, we need to also add the outside duties of maintaining a career as well as the demands at home.
It seems that we are trying to do everything and be there for everyone , but we are neglecting the single most important core to all of this – us! Without our good health and a fair balance, our loved ones will no doubt suffer as well.
It may be a ‘Westernized’ way of thinking to some of you; but we need to put ourselves on that top ten list as well! Although I can certainly think of a few women who seem to have no problems putting their needs first, this is very uncommon and most of us are challenged with this ‘Super Woman’ syndrome. So why are we putting ourselves last?
The idea of the ‘Super Woman’ itself probably originated from Western culture. The intentions were good in trying to create a sense of equality, partnership and respect for the female as a Goddess – as century old religions have taught us. But in our modern day world, these increased abilities, skills & expectations have actually burdened women rather than helped them. Our ‘feminine super powers’ seem to be taken for granted as opposed to being valued. More and more women are trying to balance life’s tight rope of Eastern and Western lifestyles. As a result we may be at a risk of not really ‘achieving’ or ‘completing’ anything! The reality is that there is no recipe or ‘right way’ of managing our lives. This control and balance changes from day to day. Some days will be better than others and what feels right for one, may not feel the same for another. It is good to remember that there is always hope.
Below are FIVE simple steps to finding that precious balance in our lives:
- Get your family involved by delegating tasks. We can’t do everything!
- Plan, organize and prioritize your day, week and month by including your time at work and time off; doing what you love doing. This idea is about budgeting your time both at work and at home.
- Give yourself at least 15 to 20 minutes everyday to sit, reflect and meditate. These precious moments by yourself will help you focus and control interruptions and distractions throughout your day.
- Explore options at work such as flex time, benefits, job-sharing, part-time work, paid & unpaid leave, child care and realistic work loads with your employer. You will find it easier to come up with unique solutions by getting your boss on board as well.
- Have some fun by making your time away from work more valuable. Let loose, and give yourself a mental, emotional, and physical break! Stop being so hard on yourself!
Self-care and self-awareness is not about being ‘selfish’. Instead, it’s about balancing these aspects with our self-giving or sacrificing selves as women. This struggle is to not only to balance our work and lives but to also re-align our Eastern and Western identities.
Some areas of our lives will definitely suffer in trying to effectively juggle the Indian and Canadian aspects of our cultures, but it’s when we come to terms with the fact that we cannot do it all that we will be more at ease! In doing so, we can effectively be better daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, and colleagues. And as women, we must give support to one another. After all; who understands a woman better than a woman?