Ibsen was was inspired by the belief that “a woman cannot be herself in modern society,” since it is “an exclusively male society, with laws made by men and with prosecutors and judges who assess feminine conduct from a masculine standpoint.” His protagonist Nora lives this life. She is a pet, a bird made to sing for her husband. I was so annoyed; I didn’t think I could sit through Nora being objectified. And then a glimmer, we find out Nora saved her husband by secretly taking out a loan and secretly repaying it (even though her imbecile of a husband accuses her of being a spendthrift and clothes horse because she continually asks him for money). Nora knows everyone is underestimating her, but she keeps playing the role, dancing for dollars. I am again annoyed. And then in the finale, shouted down by her husband, Nora finally looks up – and leaves him. Pump fist, “You go girl!”
Nora walks away to find her voice. It is something we women are still doing 135 years later! Over the past year, I have been listening to my female friends talk about feeling unheard. Not just unappreciated – unheard. We are losing our voice as our families grow and there are more to take care of, as our work responsibilities become more demanding with new job titles, as more people take our shrinking time. When we constantly give, we lose our voice.
So on this International Women’s Day, here are 5 ideas to get our voice back.
Yes maybe listen to Katy Perry. But also give yourself a shout out – literally. Shout how awesome you are, it feels so good. Get your friends to do it with you, and definitely your kids. I was leading my Girl Scout troop this week and telling them about Women’s History month and we shouted out several times about how women rock. We talked about famous women and the contributions women have made. We celebrated each other and talked about what each girl wanted to be when she grew up. I wish all of these little girls grow up in a world where they never feel their voice is unheard.
2. Write yourself a love note.
Even when we hear thank you and praise from friends, family and colleagues, we fail to give ourselves praise. Take a minute and write down what you have done in the past day, week or month that you are proud of. You’ll see how long the list is and you’ll know that you – and your voice – is irreplaceable.
3. Spend at least one hour every week not thinking about anyone else.
I was going say give yourself an hour say everyday, but I know that’s unrealistic when we are pulled in twenty different directions every minute. Let’s start with once a week: lock yourself in the bathroom for an hour and take a bath or sit down and indulge in one hour straight of reading that book that’s been sitting on your bedside table. Just you time. These moments help redraw the outline of you because when you are constantly caring for others or working, your outline fades and you become a shadow.
4. Save up for a treat.
We put away money for college for the kids. We save up for a family vacation. But when do we indulge in something just for us? Something impractical, something totally selfish? We feel so guilty when there are other priorities. But ladies, we are the priority! I am dreaming of saving up enough money to go to Mandy Aftel and have her make me my own perfume. A scent that says Tatiana. That is mine. My voice. (and for those of you who remember Tatiana perfume from the 1980s, that is totally NOT my scent!)
Call your mom, sister, oldest friend. Do not email or text. Call. We need to HEAR the voices that inspired us in our lives. And in that way we will know our own voice.
Happy International Women’s Day!