Society and Confidence: Friends or Enemies?
Women around the world are striving each day to break stereotypes around their perceived role within the household and, broadly speaking, within society. In Southeast Asia, this battle is tougher given the patriarchal nature of the society, which is reflected in the actions and thoughts of its people.
From reducing women to the role of caretakers and housewives to discriminating against those who enter the workforce for financial and emotional independence, here are a few examples of what women in this part of the world hear on a regular basis:
- Why spend so much on her education? It’s not like she’s going to work
- It would help if you focused on raising your kids. A 9–5 can wait
- Why do you need to work? Your husband can provide for you
- Working moms can never balance work and family
While we’re often advised to focus on our goals and ignore the noise, it is easier said than done. Ignoring a direct attack on our fundamental right might make it disappear in the short term. Still, it can have a long-lasting impact on our subconscious and our thought process, negatively impacting our confidence, among other things.
The role of society in breaking or building one’s confidence is pivotal. While we don’t have control over whether society will support our growth or create obstacles in our path, there are actions we can take to limit its influence, especially when it is detrimental.
The first step is identification.
As each person’s circumstances vary, so will the nature and extent of society’s role in their life. It is important to keep evaluating your surroundings to identify people or things that are not adding value or, worse, bringing you down. These may include:
- People you work with
- Family and friends
- People you study with
- People in your professional network or the network itself
- Place where you work or study
In addition to identifying the noise source, it is important to identify the type of noise. Answering the following questions might help you start the process:
- Are people making comments about your choice of work or area of study?
- Are colleagues discriminating against you based on your gender?
- Does someone close to you not approve of your field of interest?
- Is your family preventing you from taking a work opportunity?
- Is someone or something making you feel like you’re not good enough for the job?
If your answer to the above questions is in the affirmative, the next logical step is to analyze. Do a deep dive to analyze the impact these comments, opinions, disapprovals, and actions have on you. It could become apparent in feelings of demotivation and lethargy in the form of anxiety, lack of confidence, lack of belief in one’s abilities or a combination of each of these.
Once you’ve identified the detractors and the distraction and analyzed the area of impact, what is next?
There are several routes that you can take at this point.
Dialogue. This is applicable in the case that the person is someone you’re close to. By having a conversation, you can understand their point of view and try to refute it with logical reasoning. Dialogue is not about justifying your choices to them but rather an attempt to initiate a mindset shift. If you’re successful in changing one person’s perspective, this could have ripple effects within society at large.
Disengage: If the person is set in their ways and does not want to adopt a different perspective, you can disengage yourself from the conversation and interaction. Please don’t waste your time and energy trying to win their approval. When and where to draw this line of separation varies from person to person. While some people choose to disengage immediately, others might put in more effort to encourage a mindset shift.
Support: If you’ve been able to navigate society, use your experience to be better towards those around you. We are what makes society. The words we speak in private conversations, the comments we write on social media, and the principles we hold collectively make up a society. If we start being more supportive of others, helping them in whatever capacity we can, it will result in a society that builds confidence rather than breaking it down.
This blog contribution was made by Aleena Ahmad.
Aleena is a graduate of Electrical Engineering and currently working as a Market Analyst. She loves to read books, is obsessed with political non-fiction, finds baking therapeutic, and likes to start her day with yoga. Aleena believes writing is the best way to articulate one’s thoughts and start a conversation. She feels passionate about women empowerment initiatives and always looks for opportunities to contribute.
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