It's not easy being a woman. No matter what we say, no matter what we do, there will always be that set of judging eyes and disapproving stares. How many times have we seen people nod their heads in heartless disapproval and mumbling under their breaths, "kababaeng tao..." as if being a specific gender should restrict us from choosing the bridges we ought to cross or journeys we wish to take? Why don't we ever hear "kalalakeng tao, nang-babastos ng babae..." Is it now an accepted ideal for men to disrespect women? If you ask me, SOME men should be insulted when they are told boys will be boys as they eyeball women like trophies to be won—because relying on the corrupted phrase itself particularly implies that men are unfit to control themselves or their carnal instincts. Being a woman in a world that devalues and polices them is tough enough. Let's not make it more difficult by keeping our young women, the leaders, mothers, and future of the nation, in the dark. Here are 20 things no one ever tells young women but should:
You are NOT your past, emotions, mistakes, or the scars you choose to hide.
Your past will be haunting you years and years down the line. That’s the harsh truth of it all. The worst part is that you can do nothing to change it. Your past, no matter how dark, will be in your every thought, dangling in every word you speak, and hiding quietly in the deepest recesses of your mind—patiently awaiting the right time to break you. Just thinking about this makes you feel desolate and bleak, but the silver lining? Is that you can choose to not let your past define your future. You've finished a few chapters in your life. You've still got a whole book to go. Make it good.
BEAUTY is subjective in the eyes of the beholder.
Likewise, you must always remember that true beauty comes from the inside and NOT from what you present to the world on the outside. True beauty stems from your love, kindness, patience, and compassion towards others; particularly those who can do nothing for you in return. Beauty is defined by the way you think, the things you say, and the things you choose do. Don't ever attempt to compare your unique beauty to that of others. Be your own brand of beautiful—and embrace it with open arms.
Your heart and character is NOT and will NEVER BE determined by your grades, weight, looks, wealth, or the price of the clothes you wear.
All these are merely numbers, nothing more. The number on the scale? How much money you have in your bank account? How many As or Fs you've received on a report card? None of these can gauge your true beauty, intellect, charisma, kindness, or courage. So pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going, princess—you still have goals to slay.
NO is a powerful word—use it often.
You have more control over situations than you think. Understand that you are never obligated to say yes to anything or anyone. While it's always good to be selfless in the name of helping others, try to avoid doing so at the expense of your own morals, values, priorities, or what's important to you. Chances are, if you feel pressured or obligated to do something? It's a bad idea. Listen to your gut instinct—it's probably right.
You don't have to apologize.
Apologies are important, yes, but be sure to know what to apologize for. Remember that you don't ever have to apologize for what you feel, for what you choose to prioritize, for relentlessly pursuing your passions, for telling the truth (even when it hurts) or for being yourself in general.
Learn how to give guys a break.
Simply put, give guys a break! It's amazing how we are all so focused on feminism, empowering women, and women's rights that we often forget that guys are humans too. They get abused, they get disrespected, they get hurt, they and they get their hearts broken. Plus, they are expected to be strong on top of all that (even when they just want to break down). We have to stop viewing humanity as two separate genders. We are all human after all, we all have souls. Besides, you shouldn't be allowing prejudice take over the entire male population because of that ONE guy who broke your heart during freshman year.
Watch closely the people who don't clap when you succeed.
Likewise, be aware of how someone talks about other people to you—they could be talking about you too.
The amount of makeup you have (or don't have) on your face does not define you
What is it with people and judging women with or without makeup on their face anyway?
BOYS don't bully you because they like you.
It is appalling how overused this mistaken idea is. But sadly, it is something that young women have been told time and time again by their teachers, friends, or parents from such a young age that they've grown up with it. It used to be cute at one point, conjuring up images of a young boy no older than five with an adorable crush on a classmate, but can we just stop romanticizing physical or emotional masochism please? It is NEVER okay to hurt anyone. It's not cute, it's not sweet, it's NOT romantic, it is inflicting pain. Love should never intentionally cause pain emotionally, mentally, or physically and I believe that that’s something young children should be made to understand as early as possible.
People’s negative judgements of you or your choices don't matter!
Choose joy—regardless of what other people think. Do whatever makes you happy.
No woman is EVER ASKING FOR IT.
No matter the length of the clothes she wears, how much she's had to drink, who she chooses to be with, or how late she stays out.
Sex, your virginity, or how many boyfriends you've had does NOT equate to being a woman of lesser value.
It's 2016, people. A woman should be seen as a human being and NOT as a piece of meat whose value lies on how many men she's dated or slept with. Isn't it sickening how men are praised for this very same ideal whereas women are shamed? As Ms. Norbury from Mean Girls says: "you have to stop calling each other sluts and whores, it only makes guys call you sluts and whores..." Way to go, Ms. Norbury. Way to go.
CONSENT is a simple "yes" or "no."
There is NO gray area between a "yes" or a "no." Remember that. Your own consent should be valued far above another's tenacity and will. Violating such is a crime. If it's not a "yes" then it's a solid NO. Simple as that.
Everyone you know right now is fighting their own battles—never compare the gravity of yours to theirs.
What may mean stepping over a molehill to you may mean climbing mountains to them. Just be prepared to help them in their time of need with open arms and an open heart.
Don't EVER lower your standards for anyone or anything.
Don't apologize for setting your standards and priorities either.
One bad meal won't make you fat—just like how one good meal will make you healthy.
Go ahead—eat that extra slice of pizza!
You are NOT RESPONSIBLE for the happiness of anyone but your own.
So don't attempt to be the sunshine for others at the expense of yours.
You don't have to stay.
You are worth so much more than you think. Know your worth and understand that you deserve BETTER. It's always difficult to walk away, especially when you still have so much to fight for, but sometimes hanging on does far more damage than letting go.
You can burn bridges
Like everything in life, you can choose to cut connections with people who bring nothing but negativity in your life. Breathe in the good, ignore the haters, and may the bridges you burn light the way to your happy place.
Love can wait.
WHY are you in such a rush to look for the guy of your dreams? It's not wrong to love. It never is. But be sure to love for all the right reasons. Are you looking for a boyfriend because you're bored? Maybe you're the only one left in your barkada without one? Maybe you're simply afraid of being alone for the rest of your life. But guess what honey, life goes on no matter what. There are plenty of fish in the sea. Don't rush love, because love will come. In the meantime, focus on yourself, your education, your goals, or your career. It can be fun to make the longest list of standards for your perfect man, but be sure to have something to bring to the table too. Yeah? In the meantime, just go with the flow. Life goes on—life goals: ON.