“A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. Whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging herself walking or weeping. From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually. And so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as the two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman. She has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life. Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another….
One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object — and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.”
― John Berger,
Someone posted this quote on Twitter and to my frustration I can’t find anymore who it was. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this since. With this, John Berger has been able to perfectly express how I have felt for so long. “A woman must continually watch herself.” That is exactly what I am trying to fight against, and now I finally know what it is that I am fighting. It is not only that I continually worry about how people received my appearance. Is my hair all right? Are my clothes good enough? Am I skinny enough? I also always worry about my behaviour, depending on the setting I find myself in. At work I worry about how professional I am. I try to make sure I am firm, but polite. I try to appear ambitious, but not too much so (spoiler: I am not ambitious at all). Even with my own family (parents, siblings) I constantly watch myself. Am I a good enough mother? Am I successful enough? Am I skinny enough? It almost seems impossible to be myself. Hell, some days I don’t even know who I really am anymore.
Since I am turning 40 this year I have decided that enough is enough. I am not going to give a f*ck anymore about what other people think of me, how they judge me. I am going to pursue my own dreams, even if they look ridiculous to others.
I have been writing semi seriously for five years now, but I have not yet sent anything to a publisher. Purely because I have always thought I was rubbish. That is partly true; my earlier work wasn’t the greatest. I also have been writing the wrong stuff. You see, every time I participated in NaNoWriMo (pretty much the only time I wrote seriously) my book would slide into the erotic romance genre, irrespective of what genre I wrote in. And without fail I would pull out all the erotic romantic elements out of the book. Because I was afraid of what my family might think if they read scenes like that in my book. Can I stress again that I am almost 40?
So now I say to help with it all. I am going to write what I am passionate about. I am going to be unapologetic about who I am and what I like. I am going to be music without worrying about how I am perceived.
And I am going to do my amnesty to keep this up for more than one day… It’s too easy to fall into old habits.