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Women have to find fulfillment

While scrolling on social media this morning, I came across a speech that I was deeply moved by. It was given by the actress Glenn Close as she was awarded a Golden Globe this year. Her speech was directed to women. What she said made me realize that the problems that many women, especially mothers, face in the MENA region affect women in Western societies too. 

Her acceptance speech was a powerful message for women.  She said: ‘To play a character is so internal, I’m thinking [of] my mom, who really sublimated herself to my father her whole life and in her 80s she said to me, “I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything.” It was so not right,’ Close said.

‘I feel what I’ve learned through this whole experience is that women, we’re nurturers. That’s what’s expected of us. We have our children. We have our husbands — if we’re lucky enough — and our partners, whoever. But we have to find personal fulfillment. We have to follow our dreams. We have to say, “I can do that and I should be allowed to do that“’ she continued.

I was emotionally moved by that statement, remembering a short conversation I had with my mother a year or two ago. I asked her why she no longer wrote poetry as she used to when she was young. My aunts had chanced to tell us that she had been very talented but that she had never written after she got married. 

I wondered why she had never told me about her abandoned talent and the dreams she had once had. I was saddened by her response. She said, ‘Your father and you, my children, took all my time. I only wanted to look after you.’ She didn’t say much but I was so sad to hear my own mother say that. She had lost her hobbies and dreams because she had dedicated her life to us. The same phenomenon Glenn Close describes applies to women in my own region just as much as her own mother. So many of them end up losing themselves when they start families. They help their own children to become inspiring and ambitious people instead of fulfilling their own potential.  

But we have to find personal fulfillment.

My mother has been working as a teacher for almost 30 years but this doesn’t necessarily mean she is fully satisfied with it. I don’t believe that our jobs should define us. Somehow it no longer matters if she did what she loved because she has more things to worry about and maybe she just settled for how life turned out and loved caring for her own husband and children.

How many women out there have lost themselves in caring for their families? My mother left herself behind so that I could move forward, achieve in my life, and become the person I aspired to be. She didn’t want the same thing to happen to me. She wanted me to discover, learn and grow, to know my own worth and that my wishes and dreams matter as much as they matter to a man or a future partner and that we are equal.  

Glenn Close’s speech was a reminder to women: not to lose ourselves and to know that we are worthy of all the goodness and fulfillment that we aim to have in life. And most importantly,  that having a partner in life and starting a family should not hold any woman back from pursuing her happiness. It is important for us, as women, to find personal fulfillment and to be able to pursue the activities that make us and shape us. Our dreams and achievements are just as important as having a family and caring for them. No one should make us feel ashamed for caring about our dreams. Life does not end when we decide to share it with another person; it should keep growing with us and continue to bring us opportunities.