The other day, while I was at the supermarket buying a bunch of tasteless food items for a self imposed 100-day dieting initiative, I bumped into a girl I haven’t seen for over ten years. We recognized each other instantly and so we exchanged the regular pleasantries . And, then she asked me the status question every girl seems to ask her old friends. “Where are you working these days?”. “I’m with a PR Agency” I replied and i told her its name. She heard my response and she said, “ You always were the sociable type and you always knew the right people so it is no wonder you got the position you have right now”.
Shocked at her response , I wasn’t quite sure what to answer, but I did wonder about her implications. I thought to myself “So , now what ? should I apologize to her for my job, or should I explain to her that the job had nothing to do with the people I do or don’t know? Or should I explain to her that I am not a girl with influential connections, and that I never have been, nor did I ever care to be ”
I really wanted to explain to her that like everyone else on the planet I applied to the Agency I am working for , and just like all other candidates, I took an exam, sat through three interviews, and that even when I got the job, I passed through a three month probation period before signing a contract.
I also wanted to explain to her that like everyone on the planet, I started as a junior employee and I worked my way up, but instead my tongue was tied. I was simply caught off guard by her insinuations that labeled me as a person void of skills of my own, and yet living happily at the mercy of the “imaginary” connections she spoke about.
But, instead of giving her a piece of my mind, the flow of verbal diarrhea I have often been associated with dried up. I was speechless for more than ten seconds, but when the silence got too awkward I blurted out, well what do you do? She replied ,” I am a KG teacher and I have three kids of my own. Maybe you should visit me, or I would imagine you are too busy. People who work in agencies are always too busy”. Hearing these words, I suppressed the rising levels of rage within me and I simply replied “I would love to” . We then exchanged numbers gave each other the customary kiss on the cheek and each parted our separate ways.
I really wanted to write that incident off as a bad experience, but then another similar incident in the same week made me think otherwise.
A few days later, while I was talking to a friend of mine, our conversation turned to after work activities, when my friend said” You have no responsibilities or obligations after work, so you have the time to be involved in activities”. Although I was sure my friend didn’t mean the words negatively, they did leave me wondering if this was an insult to my intelligence, the quality of my life, or my priorities, or worse yet my intellectuality and the motives behind the things I do?
I couldn’t help the fact that the assumption bothered me even more than the first one simply because it came from a person whom I assumed knew me well enough. It left me wondering whether or not I owe an explanation as to whether I do or don’t have obligations, whether or not I do have financial responsibilities, or whether or not I should list the things I actually do with my time. But once again, I got tongue tied more so than before because the insinuation made me feel like I am this silly girl with no real values in my friend’s eyes. I really didn’t want to lose the friendship and so i bottled up my thoughts and I decided to write the incident off as a bad choice of words. Instead of defending myself I said “Yes, you are right. No one requires anything financially or time wise from me” and I quickly shifted the topic to something else.
These are only two of the many assumptions people make in our society, where a girl if not chasing kids or cooking for a husband has nothing to do in her life. Just like a girl in a good job is either someone with breathtaking beauty or someone with connections. Few people stop to think that these working girls may have responsibilities, that they may have obligations, and more importantly that they got to where they are due to real skills and capabilities, along with a diligence to put in 13 hour work days at the start of their careers.
Little do people realize, that women do work whether single or married, and that their work is not some frill activity , but then again no self respecting girl will tell people what she does with her salary and for whom, nor will she tell the world about her parent’s or her husband’s finances and how much of her salary goes towards obligations to these parties of people. But, instead of celebrating success, some working women are forced to feel the need to apologize for it, just like the lady in the supermarket made me feel, or if not apologize, they should submit a balance sheet showing what responsibilities and obligations they have. If they do engage in a lecture, an educational activity, or even a fun activity it isn’t because they have empty lives but rather it is because like men they too have aspirations for themselves. If they are successful it is because they worked hard in fact much harder than other ladies settling for simple office jobs or yet sitting at home waiting for the perfect guy to marry them. To these ladies I say good luck with that , as you will be waiting for a long long time !
You see, times have changed, the poor economy has forced women to grow older in their single status, so that they do start living their lives with the full knowledge that they may be single for their entire golden years. Most of them are even well aware of the fact that they will work after their marriage, and any woman hoping for otherwise is seriously deluded.
We live in an age where, Prince Charming has fled the Country, and the time has come for sleeping beauty to wake up and find work, and for Reponsel to cut her hair , open the tower door and go back to school. No realistic thinking girl sits at home waiting for a guy to come and save her financially. The connections won’t work, and yes even in their parents’ homes many girls have obligations, responsibilities, and bills to pay, even if they don’t cry about it to the world. This is simply called growing up and dealing with it.
If any working girl wants to get married it is for partnership, and companionship, and it isn’t because her life is empty. It really isn’t because she needs a guy financially, In fact, she might help him out without feeling sorry for herself for doing it. So, I think that before we open our mouths , we should really ask ourselves if we know the person in front of us? Can we label that person in any way, shape or form? Are all women the same ? Are all men the same? I ask the world to give the person in front of them some credit, before shooting generalizations about his/her life.