Yesterday I wanted to talk a little bit (okay, a lot – the article was ummm... lengthy) about the complicated cycle of distrust between religious and secular communities. I talked about how orthodox communities are sometimes given a chance to shine a positive light on our culture. This can lead to a better understanding between communities and even a willingness to collaborate. However, it can also potentially lead to distrust when a religious defense or explanation no longer feels sufficient. Outreach can sometimes go awry because the pressure is on to create a better image and reputations for our communities.
I don’t think these issues solely affect us in big discussions between leaders, organizations, and activists. I can tell you personally, that I always wanted to come off as a sophisticated religious woman who could answer anybody’s challenge of my lifestyle flawlessly and with a whole bunch of confidence. I wanted to prove to friends, family, and teachers that I had made an intelligent decision. But instead, more often than not, I would get nervous and offer botched defenses. I would beat myself up for not looking cool and confident.
The struggle to defend yourself can become internalized and leak into everyday life, because you genuinely want to be that sophisticated person. Whether it’s excelling in your religious studies, working on your marriage till it’s perfect, or trying to succeed in your career while casually bouncing a baby on your knee – many of us have wanted at some time or another to show the world that we are educated, empowered, and spiritual women. And it can feel exhausting.
When I started making draft blog posts over three years ago, most of my posts were about how to balance everything in life and how to do it well. The blog was going to be my journey to somehow finally get it together. After I sent out my pre-published blog for feedback to friends, one person asked for more personality to come out – for a little bit more humor, even. Another friend mentioned that it seems like I feel pressured to know how to do everything. After I read the book Superwoman, it sealed the deal. I decided that I want this blog to bring women together and to talk about why we so often feel like failures. I wanted to make a space where we could see that we’re not alone – no matter what our background is.
I try to talk about things I know that both religious and non-religious women worry about. Whether it’s about raising our kids with the pressure to nourish them well, needing some extra courage to stand up for ourselves at work, or grappling with the full-out craziness that is motherhood – I think we all want to be more open and real with each other. By letting go of our images just a bit, we can give not just ourselves, but all women a little breathing room. We can encourage each other to sit back, relax, and maybe even eat something delicious that you didn't have to cook yourself.
P.S. Here's the first time we talked about this topic a bit....