The Burden of Expectations

‘I wasn’t born an avatar to fit your expectations’

That was a dialogue from a movie that I watched during the week, which was a statement from a depressed daughter to her father after woefully failing to meet his expectations.

This scene reminded me of the fact I have always known that a lot of daughters out there feel the same but do not have the courage to voice it out.

Expectations have broken a lot of hearts into pieces, making a lot more feeling worthless because they could not meet the expectation of a person or society.  These expectations vary according to gender with boys having a different set of expectations placed on them than the girls.

Lost of women have been persecuted by society for their inability to meet these expectations making them live a life of misery and judgement. Girls are often told to ‘marry along with their mates’ but no one tells them to marry when the time is right, which is a more important advice and counsel because early marriage is not a guarantee for a happy one, on the contrary, it sometimes opens the door to violence and in some cases death.

I will never be able to forget my friend who married the same time with her mates but died before she could see her first child. The terrible experience she had because of her husband and co-wife drained her alive. She went along with her unborn child to a place no one returns from. Her father was eager to let her go. We should love and respect the choices of daughters with the same gravity we do to our sons.

The expectation in every heart begets fear, fear that “I can never be good enough” but everyone is good to the best of their ability and women more than anyone else need to hear this more often.

One girl was raped with her hijab, a type of clothing that does not depict any physical immodesty and the other one was raped because she looked attractive and hot. They were both were expected to avoid the rapist, yet no one ever told them how. We need to encourage girls to carry pepper spray and take self-defences training instead of instilling in their heart the problem is with their dressing.

It is still a tug-o-war for ladies to choose a career unlike their male counterparts as most will face so much opposition from their own families about their chosen a career path. Before choosing a career, the family will consider society’s expectations above hers. For example, marketing job and engineering are not socially accepted field for women.

Another thing her family would think about is the office environment, a lot of families fear harassment for their daughters. Thus, they discourage them to take that field instead of teaching them how to handle it. It is true that some office environment is not safe for women but teaching them how to protect themselves in times of need is far better than truncating their ambitions. A girl raped can be raped in her Father’s protected house but can have low chances of being raped anywhere if she was prepared and taught some self-defence tactics.

Girls are judged on how beautiful they are which leads to social shaping, influencing the way we behave, the things we hear and the things we see and how we live our lives as women. A woman is expected to behave, talk, or express herself in a certain way.

These expectations are however not necessarily applicable to every woman, but each of it is true for a lot of them out there. Women are constantly fighting against pressure from family, society, or both. Some are fighting trauma due to rape, while others are fighting depression from domestic violence.

Dear women, whatever the case may be with you, know that you are powerful and strong. And most importantly be aware that you are not born an avatar to fit anybody’s expectations.

You’re a sister

You’re a daughter

You’re a mother

You’re everything a man cannot be

Wear that crown with pride.

Hajara Haruna Aliyu, a writer and an advocate for gender equality from Bauchi State.

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