Guest Author - Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger
Life is a series of lessons. From the day that we are born we learn about ourselves through our family, friends, and experiences. Seldom do we know who we really are, and what we want out of life, within our first two decades of existence. It is during this time that we try to satisfy our curiosity, and this allows us to develop into the person we will eventually become.
Unfortunately, it is also during those times of exploration that accidents can happen. Many young women become pregnant, and thus face an early adulthood preoccupied with caring for another human being before they have had a chance to fully develop an identity of their own.
As humans, we are often a product of our environment. We learn from, and are sometimes swayed by, what we see and hear. The media has a tendency to project a particular image of our society, and this affects young women in particular. The younger the viewers, the more impressionable they are and the more easily they are influenced by what they see on television. With the constant reminders of what is expected of women today—being responsible for the household, husband, and children; contributing to the household budget; trying to achieve an education if time and money allows; and maintaining the perfect figure—how is a young woman supposed to have the time to discover what she wants out of life? Many women try to achieve all these things, because they believe that society expects it of them. But what happens if women decide to turn their backs on society’s expectations? They will certainly not be placed under arrest and thrown in prison for life.
It takes courage to deviate from society’s expectations. The lives your friends have developed for themselves may not be what you have dreamed of. Nevertheless, many young women choose to follow the same path as their peers and are persuaded by the easy, carefree lifestyles portrayed by the media. Hollywood moms often say in interviews that having a child is the best thing that has ever happened to them, and that they now feel like women. They also say that “being a superwoman” and “having it all” are not as difficult as they may appear. Young women may interpret this to mean “there is no excuse for you not to be a superwoman as well.” Let us note that many of these Hollywood moms are paid salaries far exceeding the incomes of non-celebrity women. They can afford luxurious homes, expensive designer wardrobes, and nannies to care for their children while they live carefree lifestyles. The media portrayal of “having it all” is a distant mirage to young women, and this mirage quickly fades when reality hits. Motherhood may be a lifestyle for which some people are uniquely suited, but it can also limit a woman’s ability to fulfill her dreams and aspirations.
The path to womanhood does not necessarily include becoming a mother. Being a woman can also mean finding the courage to pursue the lifestyle you have always envisioned, no matter how big or small your dreams may be.