(Photo by Kat Banzon)
I took a year sabbatical from writing on this blog, not on purpose but it happened that way. After months of questioning about how to continue my work as a negotiations consultant, I learned one very important lesson. And that is, I may not have all the answers at this time, and that’s okay.
My lifelong exploration of women’s empowerment only lay the groundwork of what I am about to learn. I realized that a woman’s quest for empowerment doesn’t only transcend social and professional existences but extends beyond the spiritual plane. And I don’t mean spirituality in the sense of religious attributes but I’m speaking about the elements of our humanity that are invisible and intangible.
On a personal level, I’ve embraced the idea that empowerment is a universal desire for human freedom and autonomy. To not only able to meet our needs, but have the agency to even allow ourselves to admit the existence of those needs. By now friends and acquaintances are familiar that my desire to reach this level of freedom stems from childhood fears of scarcity and depravity.
While I grew up privileged in my community and attended elite institutions, I was sorely fed the idea that I will be judged harsher for the way I look. And will need to work harder for being me. So I spent my life fighting the gender stereotypes and social expectations that I felt would be a hindrance to me. I built myself an army with my feminist ideals and masculine traits. I proved to the world that I can succeed in a man’s world, with long, shiny locks to boot.
Fast forward to two years ago: I found myself growing secretly weary of the women’s movement. A really big part of me felt like a fraud when I noticed my impassioned spirit began to fizzle just when the women of the world were finally waking up. Like a dirty, little secret I kept this to myself.
Unlocking personal fulfillment
2018 was a transient year for me. And although I spent my entire life, exploring women’s empowerment and feminism, this year brought about spectral changes in me. I now view the world differently because I discovered that missing piece of the puzzle in my years of exploration. It was me.
I became distracted and painstakingly tried to find ways to stay professionally competitive and I overlooked my own personal desires. I never really stopped to ask myself if getting the promotion/ more money/the fancy job title/insert any professional mobility here is even what I wanted. Like really wanted. Or am I simply chasing it to prove to society that I can do it? I spent so many years disproving stereotypes about my identity but failed to ask myself: Does this resonate with me? Does this bring me joy? Or is this even pleasurable? Or am I just focusing on social expectations and less on my needs? Am I doing this to be impressive?
I have learned that part of personal empowerment means to liberate myself from defining my behavior against the social yardstick of masculinity. For me, learning to appreciate life in my own terms unabashedly and relish the things that give me pleasure without fear-based hesitation means I am close to achieving the next level of empowerment and that is gaining personal fulfillment.
I am looking forward to 2019. As I begin my new project on women and negotiations, I can’t wait to share any new findings with you. Here;s to an amazing new year!