A couple of years ago, I remember being in a very crucial conversation with friends.
We were asked to each share what choice we would make if we had to choose between the doctor saving us or our baby instead…that is in the case where he could only save one life.
I remember refusing to answer and being all religious about it.
To be honest, I kicked up a fuss because I wanted to save myself from being judged for probably having to make what would have been the wrong choice.
As African women, we are raised to believe that our ultimate goal in life is to be a wife, and then a mother.
It is ingrained in us all.
Even the most educated, the most elite or the most renowned feminist of African descent still feels a measure of inadequacy when they have been single a long time or when they have been married a while and have no child to show for it.
It is an African thing.
It’s just the way it is and will probably remain, unless we learn to rid ourselves of that conditioning and chose to be our authentic selves without any form of guilt.
Not everyone will get married.
Not everyone will have children.
Some by choice, others because circumstances will force them to make the choice.
When I read about popular Nollywood actress, Nse Ikpe-Etim and how she revealed her struggle with childbirth and eventual hysterectomy, I was proud of her.
According to her: “When I was first told by the doctor that I would have to remove my womb to live a normal life, tears dropped and then my husband squeezed my hand.
“It was reassuring that there was someone there and it was telling me that this is a reality, my reality. The ordeal made me fall into depression.
“I didn’t think there was any point anymore because my society taught me that I have to be a mother to be appreciated and every time I went online, I would have one troll or two say ‘you never born?
“But I’m thankful that that didn’t break me.”
Actually, the part of her speech that made me proud was the part where she said:
“I was told I couldn’t have kids. And so, I had to have a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) to make me have a life again and to stop going through what I was going through.
“And I’m literarily telling women and men, it really doesn’t matter if you can’t bear children. What really matters is what you would do for the world, for the universe.”
A lot of women fail to recognize who they are and to choose themselves when it is necessary.
There are women who have the same condition as Nse who would rather die suffering and having faith (just because they are determined to fulfill what they have been conditioned to believe is their destiny) than do what Nse did, which was basically letting go and instead choosing to “matter” or “succeed” in another way.
I did see a comment by someone on one of the social media platforms who, in the guise of empathy, hinted that Nse’s husband will be super heartbroken and will have to suffer as a result of her decision.
It ticked me off!
The way I see it, the person who made the comment was low-key trying to imply that she made a selfish decision.
Nse choosing to take her womb off, in a bid to save her own life, was being portrayed as somewhat selfish.
I couldn’t wrap my head around it.
These kind of comments are some of the reasons people are too scared to choose themselves when they need to.
The truth is, no one knows any other person’s journey or what it’s like to walk in their shoes, therefore no one can judge when it comes to another person’s decisions really.
If you want to choose yourself over everything and everyone else, so be it.
No one else is going to live your life for you. Indeed, you get to have the final say, so chose yourself.
Often, we put on a strong face and pretend that ignoring our own needs is selfless. But in all honesty, choosing yourself takes a lot of courage.
Choosing you actually allows you to live truthfully and to be the best version of yourself.
Fulfilling your potential and taking care of yourself first, means you are better equipped to help others.
You are the most important person in your life, no matter what.
Whether you agree or disagree, being content with who you are or a decision you have made for yourself and your life is the most important aspect of maintaining your mental and emotional well-being…