It has recently been brought to my attention that more than five people read my blog. Yes there is that list of “visitors” at the bottom of the page, but I assume they are people who randomly end up on this page through a series of crazy search strings, like “autism soup” or “life and times of the chronically underachieving” or something like that.
I think even my mom has stopped reading it. Although my mom has never read anything I have written. She, like most of her generation of parents, was interested only in results. We were as good as our academic performance. That is not to say that she didn’t or doesn’t still love us unconditionally. We are just from South East Asia, enough said.
Having an audience complicates matters for the inspirationally challenged. Suddenly I am clever and must produce some form of cathartic personal reflection that will resonate with readers on a regular basis. A temporarily impressed soul has also nominated the blog for some kind of award. I won an award once, by accident, for reciting a speech written by my teacher and memorized by me, at age 6. I had no idea what I was saying. Everyone was overcome with dreams of grandiose future accomplishments, which unfortunately led to a couple of confusing decades of misguided academic pursuits, but Alhamdulillah I never grew an inflated ego. I think because deep down, all I ever wanted to do was have kids and climb trees. Maybe if I win an award, my mom will start reading my blog.
In a recent Eid party conversation between married and the young unmarried, someone mentioned how marriage didn’t turn out to be all they had dreamed of because they had been living a princess dream. Prince charming driving up in a land rover, falling in love, glass shoe and little people who live underground and all that. Because I am one of those people who never know what to say on the spot, but always come up with coherent thoughts upon later reflection, on the drive home I realized I never had a princess dream.
I had another more toxic dream. I had the “Go girl, you can be as good as any man” dream. Possibly the greatest injustice to my gender, was (and most certainly still is) this desire to measure yourself in relation to man. If he can do it I can do it better. I was going to be aggressive and I was going to come out on top. I am smart, I can wear a suit, slide down a pole, drive a car, have a career, be financially independent, run a marathon and so on and so forth. This notion is so profoundly ingrained in the psychology of women of my generation that I doubt I will ever be able to truly purge myself of it. If only I knew then what I know now, that I was measuring myself against a faulty standard at best, another creation, prone to error, failure, weakness, and great evil. What is a man but another kind of human? I am the other kind and we are not the same. What we really should be asking is if he can do it, why should I? Good for him, I can do a bunch of other things he can never do. Or better yet we, the two of us together, can do a bunch of things that each of us alone can never do so well.
How cruel that I denied myself the pleasure of enjoying my true nature. That all those years my mind, by attributing success to being able to do things men can, automatically reduced my femininity to something lower, weaker, humiliated. Just a woman, just a housewife.
Now I know the miracles I perform everyday cannot be taught and believe me when I say this (without an iota of arrogance) that I am GOOD. Not because of anything I did, but it is what I am designed to do. And oh what delicious pleasure I derive out of my daily accomplishments, because it is my divine programming. I am living the dream.
So what has to happen for us to know who we are and what our purpose is? Knowledge has to come to us and with this knowledge, Allah has to bless us with some wisdom. I feel perhaps what was missing through my childhood was access to real knowledge. Perhaps the previous generations of women were so content because they studied the divine book and the traditions, which nurtured in them a satisfaction with who they were. As female students of knowledge dropped out of the equation, and go girl feminism exerted its pressure on women, we were left with nothing but these two nonsensical dreams. Finite goals that completely put aside not just our true purpose of existence, but also our feminine nature.
When you come to understand the purpose the Creator has defined for women and how the divinely ordained way of life carves out our roles for us, then you truly begin to measure yourself against a completely different standard. We are not as good as any man can be or do, but our significance and value before Allah has no limits. We are as good as our obedience to our Lord, which is a standard that is enduring and one by which we can surpass any creation. We are the free and unhindered.