by Priyanka Roychoudhury
Today, women, and especially young women of colour often find themselves in the midst of diverse roles and societal expectations perpetuated by a patriarchal society. Within these expectations, an invisible load is carried with grace and resilience. Much of the work we contribute, especially in caregiving roles, remains unpaid, and our sacrifices often go unnoticed. The unspoken expectation of continuous giving places us at risk of burnout and self-neglect. Do you often feel overwhelmed by the pressure to keep everything together? As if maintaining a facade of control and meeting impossibly high expectations are your sole responsibilities, and the entire household staying together rests on your shoulder? You are not alone.
Elder siblings and daughters of all ages typically face high expectations from family members in many cultures.
In fact, those who play roles (like me) are more likely to shoulder a significant portion of household tasks and many may experience increased stress. There is even a term coined for it – the ‘eldest daughter syndrome’! In this context, a profound yet often overlooked aspect of our journey is the critical need for rest and self-care. The burdens we carry from managing our careers, relationships and households to shouldering emotional labour, highlight the urgent necessity for a fundamental shift in embracing self-care as an act of rebellion and self-love.
It’s crucial to reframe self-care not as a luxury. But as an essential aspect of maintaining our life’s equilibrium. We must recognise that self-care is an investment in our holistic well-being. By taking deliberate moments for personal restoration, we proclaim our intrinsic value and equip ourselves to face the challenges life presents.
So what can rest and self-care look like?
Mindfulness and Wellbeing:
It can be the rhythmic flow of yoga, the serenity of meditation, or simply immersing yourself in a moment of quiet reflection. Such practices offer a sanctuary of self-discovery. Mindfulness becomes a conduit for restoring balance. Through this, we are acknowledging and catering to our specific needs, including the spiritual and mental nuances of being women. It provides a sacred pause, allowing us to connect with our inner selves and acknowledge the present moment. Mindfulness is a powerful ally in managing the unique physical and hormonal intricacies that we, as young women of colour, face.
Navigating relationships, both familial and social, requires a delicate dance of setting and respecting boundaries. As such, the ability to articulate and establish clear limits becomes necessary. We need to learn to say ‘no’ when necessary; it is not an act of selfishness but an assertion of our self-preservation. Establishing boundaries is the cornerstone of cultivating healthy relationships. By setting boundaries, we not only safeguard our mental health but also contribute to the creation of valued and respectful relationships. As we embark on the transformative journey of self-care, we challenge social norms. This journey is an empowering testament to our resilience and a declaration that our well-being matters.
In essence, the transformative power of self-care for young women of colour is an ode to our strength, and acknowledgement of our unique needs, and a revolutionary act that will echo through generations. In nurturing ourselves today, we pave the way for a future where self-love is the foundation upon which young women of colour build their lives, fostering a community of empowered and authentic women.