We are all perfectly aware of the expectations placed on woman, at all times. Be pretty, that’s a given. But of course not JUST pretty, then you’re just vapid.
You have to be smart, but you could be sharing the greatest knowledge to be discovered in generations and be ignored, if you aren’t pleasant to look at. Then, of course, you have to be nice. But you can’t be too nice, you don’t want to be a pushover.
How do you find a balance between the two? They are seemingly as opposite as anything could be. So how do you do both simultaneously?
I have, unfortunately, seen many a woman decide it can’t be done. I’ve seen far too many women choose the path of the sweet sacrifice. They give and give and give. Compliments, advice, favors, even money. Whatever is needed. There are no complaints and absolutely never a “No”. On the opposite side of the spectrum there are the women who could not get enough of saying no. No one helped them, why should they help you? They are self-made, self-sufficient and have no patience for you if you aren’t.
I started as the first type, far too sweet for my own good. As you could guess, this went poorly. Being endlessly giving sets you up for being taken advantage of. I got fed up, and did the impossible, I learned the word no. So I tried to be the second type of woman. After I learned the word no, I tried to learn to say it all the time. It was nice to finally be my first priority. I could see now how this could be easy for some. The logic was simple, if no one was going to be kind to me, then I didn’t have to be kind to them. If after all the help I had given over the years, no one was willing to return the favor, well then the favors ended there. It was unsustainable though. While thinking of only myself, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was actually giving up a part of myself.
I couldn’t be just nice all my life, but being harsh wasn’t working out for me either. While being nothing but sweet demands you give everything, being anything but sweet demands that you give nothing. It occurred to me that the reason why so many fail to find the balance between the two is this; we are expecting ourselves to live as two extremes. Since this realization, I have learned to be say no when the situation calls for it, when saying yes would become an unappreciated sacrifice. But I have also learned to give when it is deserved, when it is the right thing to do. Living as two extremes is impossible; the only way to find balance is to dilute these ideas into something more suited for the average life, consisting of both good and bad.
Dina Ryske is a 28 year old child, playing grown up and actually convincing a couple of people. She lives in New York in a studio apartment filled with books and homemade decorations that she is very proud of. Having held on to her dream of becoming a writer since middle school, Dina is finally ready to set that dream free and see where it takes her. Visit her at Ryske Writes.