How many times have you questioned yourself and your achievements? Compared yourself to others and thought that you weren't good enough?
You're not alone. In fact, self-doubt is an ongoing issue among women no matter what stage they are in life, and it's the flawed belief that you're only worth something if you "have it all" that has continued to propagate it.
In a Psychology Today interview by psychologist Seth J. Gillihan, licensed professional counselor and author Megan MacCutcheon explains why this is so:
"I think there are just so many unrealistic standards out there. By nature we tend to make comparisons, so of course when a woman's comparing herself to what she sees in advertising or the media, she's going to wind up coming up short. She's going to feel like a failure. And if her self-esteem is already low, she's going to blame herself, and feel like she's the reason she isn't living up to this image of the perfect woman who never yells at the kids and has this high-powered job and does everything perfectly and balances the chores and the house work and all that. If you're not doing that, you're going to feel flawed and inadequate, and think it's about you, rather than recognizing that we're bombarded with some seriously flawed and unrealistic advertising."
She also noted that while there has been a great advancement in gender equality, some may be implementing it to the detriment of women.
"There's been such a push for gender equality, which is a great thing, but in some ways I think it sets women up for—maybe not failure, but certainly a ton of stress..." she said. "So sometimes this idea that women can be equal to men fails to highlight the fine print: Yes, they can be, but they will also need to find ways to make it all work..." There would be some people expecting women to "do it all" and still stick with traditional gender roles at home.
This is why it's important to highlight true equality—one wherein all genders participate in. In its statement for the upcoming Women's Month of March, the Philippine Commisson on Women acknowledged that there's still a lot of work to do, citing that unequal pay and excessive domestic work brought about by gender inequality are only two of the many things that women go through on a daily basis.
It's difficult to change systems, but you can start changing things within yourself, and that begins with trusting who you are. Instead of doubting the process, comparing yourself with others, and thinking that your achievements are meager (which are definitely not!), learn to respect your own journey. Most importantly, use your voice to talk about what you need and want. It's not easy, and it will definitely take time especially if your environment promotes traditional gender roles, but if you start from loving and valuing yourself, you've already made the first step towards a life that isn't perfect, but one that you deserve. And you'll be surprised—knowing your worth can tip the scales in your favor.
As the PCW stated: "Women are extraordinary in strength, passion, wisdom, vigor, and heart. They dare to break stereotypes that have long imprisoned them, battle discrimination head on, and survive every hurdle, only to emerge stronger. Women, from different backgrounds and places, strive to show that no, this is not just a man’s world; this is a world for everyone!"
International Women's Day is on March 8. For more information on your rights as a woman, visit the Philippine Commission on Women online.