Updated: Dec 12, 2020
Am I truly free?
The more I think of it, the more rhetorical this question gets. Right off the bat, the concept of freedom is fluid. Different for every individual, different because of who they are, where they come from, what they look like and what they stand for.
I believe some would argue that me claiming to be bound, to not be completely free is outrageous, and their opinions are theirs. Having it easier or better than others really put me in a tough spot when thinking of this dynamic reasonably while being true to myself. I don’t think you can be free if you aren’t allowed to be free from tags, from stereotypes, from closed doors you don’t quite know how you got stuck inside.
As much as I have to say about how women around the world are scrutinized into certain boxes, it's quite holistically a problem every individual happens to face.
Let’s say I’m a stay at home mom, I wake up at 6 AM, scroll through Pinterest trying to come up with something fun to make for my kid’s school lunch which I can drop off at school. Did you automatically paint a picture in your head about me, a classic Soccer mom?
Now, let’s shift our focus to the mom who forgot the game because she was too busy working, trying her best to make ends meet. Yes, you might put her on a pedestal, call her a lady boss, but there are others who call her inconsiderate or even too ambitious.
There is always someone on Instagram swiping through stories passing judgments, calling someone a hoe for fashion choices they very well have all rights to make. There is a girl who prefers being a little more covered, maybe she isn’t comfortable wearing something revealing, and guess what, they’d call her a prude.
It’s hilarious and outright un-understandable how terms like these are so easily part of our day-to-day lifestyles that we forget we are being judgemental. For all I know I could want to be a classic biker chick today and be a princess the next. I love how everyone has a personality, a vibe, things they love, situations that make them grumpy, people who get on their nerves, and their guilty pleasures. It would be nice if they could just be themselves, without middle names they didn’t ask for. One shouldn’t have to fear judgments, fear not living up to expectations from anyone but themselves for decisions they make.
YES, you can take pride in being a boss bitch, someone who owns the conference room every time she enters, she really does pull that pantsuit well, doesn’t she? But maybe on weekends she just wants to slip on those pyjamas and simply be the girl next door. In no way does that take away from her being a powerful badass, she can take days off too, it’s okay. Completely okay.
I often come across so many assumptions and stereotypes based on racial or geographical constraints. Just because I look like your textbook china doll, doesn’t mean I like to be submissive, shy, or demur. Watch out, might just pin you down with my heel if you make another smug comment about me for no apparent reason. Also, see that blonde sipping on a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, no she needn’t be incompetent or dumb, little do you know she might whoop you in that General Knowledge quiz due Monday!
The feminazi who is strong-willed and voices her opinions, the gold digger who probably just someone who fell in love without overthinking what others would say, the good catholic girl who is too scared to seek help about a pregnancy she didn’t plan, the old hag who wishes humans would avoid her so she can just chill at home with her grumpy cat - they all just want the freedom to be themselves without you calling them names. The nympho who isn’t afraid of her sexual desires, the bra burner who is constantly fighting for what she believes in, your basic, not-so-basic VSCO girl just having fun and being herself - they want to let you know they aren’t going to apologize so you can move ahead and come up with other ways to push them down ( they won’t work for long, stop trying).
Yes, she’s Asian, no her parents aren’t as uptight as you think and she is not as nerdy as you’d wish. She probably has a truckload of assignments piled up so give her a break maybe? Did you notice the Latino girl at the party last night? Did you think she would be fiery, bold and the life of the dance floor? Were you shocked to see that she chose to lay back and sip on some wine while having a pleasant conversation instead?
Hey, I get it, we have been forced to think in a certain way by society. I mean, these stereotypes can even make you proud of your individuality but all I feel is you shouldn’t have to be just one person or any one type unless you choose to do so. Live for yourself and for the people you love. Know that whoever you are and whatever box the world tries so darn hard to put you into, you can be whoever you want! Live wild (even if that means staying home on a Friday night for you), live free.
Sanskriti Pattanayak is a 20-year-old from Bangalore, India currently pursuing her Bachelor's in Computer Science. Her existence summed up in a phrase would be "Unicorn meets occasional Eeyore" (you must get Winnie the Pooh references). Find her on Instagram @sanskriti_11. Her other work can be viewed on her blog: https://sanskritipattanayak.wixsite.com/sanskriti/