Our whole lives we are taught to follow the rules, not be too emotional, and blend in. By blending in I mean get good grades, go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, buy a house, retire, all while not making too much trouble. As a society we ridicule anyone who feels too hard, making fun of people who cry at movies or when tears burst through from anger. There are even more restrictions for women, that are ingrained at a young age. As a girl you are taught its ok for boys to be hyper and rambunctious but you should be proper and demure. Think about laundry commercials, when was the last time you saw a girl with a grass stain or a dad removing the stain? As a woman if you are ambitious, seek out what you want, and demand what your worth you are quickly labeled as a bitch, meanwhile John Smith is over here getting what he wants and no one bats an eye. So you learn to either fade and not push your agenda or either take on the (unfair) title of difficult. The pressures and double standards on women in this society are insane. As a result a lot of women are forced to constantly adapt to their surroundings, to be in the moment what is needed of them, sometimes putting aside our own personal views to please others. If you do this often enough sometimes your own views become forgotten, lost in the back of your mind.
Artist Daisy Bernard does an exemplary job of showing some of these daily conflicts women are faced with.
I have fallen into the trap of rules but I am the queen of adaptation. I can turn a dinner for four into a dinner for eight, transition to plan b seamlessly, and even make something out of nothing. A go with the flow attitude gives you flying colors in the “works well with others” box. Being adaptable in a social and professional world is extremely important. It makes you likeable. Add in a positive get it done spirit and you are an asset to any company. But what happens when you work for yourself? There’s no way you can be successful if you don’t stand up for yourself or have conviction of how you feel.
Living in a constant state of adaptation is stressful and it is important to set standards, expectations, and limits. As I’m building my brand of Chefleen and experiencing the ups and downs of entrepreneurship I’m learning that while adaptation is necessary I shouldn’t accept anything I don’t want. If I pay someone for a service and was clear on my expectations I shouldn’t feel bad for explaining to them what they did wrong. It doesn’t make me mean; it means I care about my vision. Personally I have a lot of “friends” but as I am streamlining my whole life I have been examining who actually brings value. Friendship is a mutual and I have been so giving that too often I have been in symbiotic or even worse parasitic relationships. There is nothing neutral in life, everything and everyone either adds or takes away from my energy and I need to protect that in order to live to my full potential.
Now I’m not saying I’m doing away with adaptation completely, but too often I have made other’s poor planning my emergency or keep myself in situations where I’ve have to consistently adapt to someone else’s energy in turn affecting my own. Going with the flow is cool, but it has to be in my own river. Rules can be broken, emotions need to be released, and it’s ok to stand out. It starts with understanding my unique value, the light I shine that no one else can. Everyone has it so don’t let anyone dim your light, shine on with no apologies.