When I started this blog exactly a year ago (it’s been a year!), I was in pain. I was a bit broken to say the least.
At the beginning of this painful journey, I was under this notion that my self-worth was somehow intricately linked to my relationship status. I was proud that I had a boyfriend. I was even more proud that someone like him was in love with me. I forgot that I have as much potential as he has. I did not know that being in a relationship should not make you feel like you’re part of a social outreach project. I made big life decisions based on this vague future that we will be married one day. When it all fell apart, I really didn’t know who I was anymore. So despite how it ended, looking back, I’m glad it did. I’m rather proud of myself for having the strength to move to an entirely new country within a matter of months and starting this kickass career which I so deserve.
So I’m at the present now and I am present in my life finally. I have never imagined being single can be this empowering. For years, I was lost in the daydream that I would be married and have children with him and that was my end goal. I fail to see beyond that. Now that I’m single, I am forced to have a major wakeup call about what I want for myself and the kind of person I want to be. It was jarring and uncomfortable to realise that I am the worst kind of feminist – the one who preaches about feminism but never applies it in her life. My idea of the worth of a woman (my worth) shocked me – I took no pride in my career nor my ability as a human being to love, to be kind, and to form meaningful friendships. On the outset, I wanted to be appear as an independent woman, but on the inside, I was so insecure with a gripping fear that if he leaves me, there would be no one to love me. I had all these backward and constrictive ideas about womanhood – I’m too old to have a family, I’m not pretty enough for some other men to notice me, I must pretend to be dumb and helpless so I can fluff his ego so he will stay with me or he can exercise his toxic masculinity. All these stupid ideas don’t stick once you become your own person. You realised these are internalised misogyny you can only fight by realising it within yourself. The realisation will be uncomfortable and you won’t be able to enjoy the same movies and tv series – all you want will be to call out on the sexist, chauvinistic storylines which popular culture bombard you with every opportunity it gets. But at the end you’ll realised that becoming your own goddamn person is ultimately the best gift you can gift yourself – so what if it unravels some backward shit and ruffles some sexist feathers?
All in all, being single has allowed me to explore my body and my mind. This has allowed me to break free of the insecurities I felt during my 6 year stint with the coward (it’s a fact). My liberation comes in waves and it’s an ongoing process but it’s not about him anymore. It’s about me now. I’ve realised that this feminist way of thinking falls into every facet of my life and I’ve listed some of the changes I’ve incorporated into my life.
- What I do with my body is my choice. No explanations necessary. Period.
- I adopt feminism in my everyday life in small ways. I don’t give compliments to women based on their appearances anymore. Instead, I celebrate the bold choices they make, their intelligence, their stories, and their lives – basically what makes them who they are and not what they were given by some accident from nature. This also allows me to ask questions and get to know people better.
- Love yourself. I try my best to be myself – I laugh as loud as I want and I dress up the way I want. Some days I might be a grannie and some days, I might be the hot girl with a backless dress. I no longer feel the need to seek for confirmation from others of my chance to exist or to be noticed. If I catch myself doing it, I ask myself why and respond to it.
- I try to be a person I would respect and admire. I try my best to be a good teacher – a good female role model for my students. I want them to know that a woman can be nurturing and be single, intelligent and be fun, quiet but fierce, empowering and fair, and most importantly, support other women. I make them see that other women’s success doesn’t diminish ours but it adds to ours instead. I also want them to see that as a southeast Asian woman who’s teaching English as a second language in Japan, if I can make it, so can they.
So happy one year anniversary to my fiercely roaring heart. I hope my journey has inspired you somehow.