A Woman’s Worth
Today’s Words of Wisdom:
“The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.”
The Foda’s Take: Well, that’s a lot easier than spending all our energy chasing after what we don’t have, right?
Hello, friends of Foda! To all the mothers out there, Happy Mother’s Day! (Especially you, Professor Momgonagall!)
First off, may I say I am overwhelmed with the amazing response “Once Upon A Lyme” has gotten. It’s been pretty unbelievable! The Female Yoda was even mentioned this week on the Huffington Post (<— click to read) which is so amazing! Thank you all for being a part of creating a healthier, safer community for the upcoming generation. Please continue to share, especially since May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Alright, with that said, now let’s get on with our topic for the day!
Drumroll, please! Today I’d like to talk about: Yardsticks! (Although to be clear, by yardsticks, I mean the figurative ones we use to measure our worth by.) Not sure what I mean? Read on!
I recently wrote a guest post for “Words from the Sowul,” one of my favorite introspective bloggers, on the topic of beauty. (Read it here!) And it really got me thinking about how we as women determine our worth. (Sidebar: sorry, boys, this is going to be a totally femme-centered post. Oh, wait just a minute. You’re leaving? Don’t you know I’m letting you into the secret underground workings of the female mind—yeah, okay, he’s gone.)
Anyway! A woman’s worth has been determined throughout history using a variety of different yardsticks. Does she come from a powerful family? What dowry does she bring with her as incentive for marriage? Will I get two goats and a yak, or just one old camel? And, of course, is she beautiful?
Notice none of these ancient values focus on personality, skill, or intelligence. (Unless you’re going totally 1950’s on me and count cooking. Cooking is a skill…. one I don’t… happen… to have. Sigh.) Anyway, the point is, women have (historically speaking) been valued for things completely out of our control. Can we control who we’re born to? No. Can we control our physical appearance? No. (Well, yes. Hence the multi-billion dollar makeup and clothes industry. But let’s face it, at some point every day, you’ll be down to your birthday suit with no “science” on your face. Hence, no. Can’t control DNA.) So basically, women have been taught that they need to have many things to be valuable, but psych! If you weren’t born with them, you’re up Dagobah creek without a paddle!
So how does this fit into my theme of living gracefully with a chronic illness? Why, I’m so glad you asked! You see, I, like most women, grew up convinced I had to try and be the “ultimate” woman. A beautiful, successful, heel-wearing powerhouse who could keep up with the boys and still look fabulous doing it. Now some of that I could control, and I tried for a long time. Then I got sick. And I realized two things. One, my outward appearance was the same. Lyme, as I’ve said before, can be an invisible illness. But two, my inward appearance was in complete shambles- and when that would return to normal was beyond my control. So after a couple years of waiting for my health to return, sure I’d get better any day now, I realized I had to throw out the old yardstick and change how I viewed my worth. It could no longer be measured by my beauty or physical accomplishments, because since there was such a divide between how I looked and how I felt, my appearance felt like a lie. And you can’t value a lie. (Or you can. But that makes you foolish. And destined for a life of unhappiness.) But I digress. So I had to discover my true worth- what makes me truly, inwardly beautiful, regardless of outer appearance or inner health. And that, my friends, was the real game changer.
I’m still working on changing how I view myself in this world. For now, I accept that the old me is gone, and the new me has to play by a different set of rules. Is it fair? No. But is it better? Yes. Because going through this has allowed me to move past the superficial societally constructed ruler of a woman’s worth and pushed me to create my own yardstick. (How do I measure my worth now, you ask? Through creation. The beauty no person, no illness, and no amount of time can take away from me.)
So today, dear reader, I’d like to pass you my yardstick. Everything we can’t control has been wiped off it: DNA, health, fate, family. (And yes, I say health, because if it was so easy to maintain, would anyone ever get/stay sick?) So I ask you- if you had to write in your own markers of worth- what would they be?
Ciao for now,