Are Women Losing Their Identity During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly caught us all with our pants down. While this pandemic has affected all of humanity in various ways, I feel that one of the ways in which it has especially affected women is the creation of an identity crises. I say this from own personal experience.

I recently found myself struggling to step up to the title  of CEO. In that instance, I who would not skip a heartbeat with introductions found myself stammering. This meant that something in my core had been shaken. It’s a foreign feeling and one that I had not felt for a long time.

Do We Have a New Identity or Have We Lost Our Identity?

They call it change and indeed it has been a total change in life as I know it. I was nowhere near ready for it or any of the consequences. I feel like I’ve lost a part of who I am in some sense. Does it also meant that I am losing the self-esteem that I’ve worked so hard to gain and guard?

It’s a good thing that the answer here is a big no. But what is it?

When I was growing up, my mum wanted me to experience a better life. She wanted me to have an independent source of income. I believe that this emanated from her need for me to experience a better life than the one she had led. During her time, the term self-reliance, for a woman, was alien. Her wishes for me came to pass albeit at a cost.

When I look back, I realize that I have been struggling to give my children the kind of quality time that they deserve. They have not received that gift in the same doses that I was accorded by my mother. This is as a result of the fast paced life that is demanded by the corporate world I belong to. 

The Dilemma 

This realization has left me pondering on what direction I need to progress in as far as my children’s welfare is concerned. The question arising is the effect of absentee parenting having now witnessed the positive effect of my constant presence. They are happier, more composed and so much more confident. All this because I have been present.

While the advent of COVID-19 has disrupted the modern world in a manner never witnessed before, it has come with an unexpected gift to humanity. The gift of time. One that I had unknowingly been taking for granted for too long. My husband and I have embraced this gift fully and shared it with our children. No conversation is packed away.

Our talks are long and candid. We share chores and competitively play all manner of board games. Monopoly is our most favorite. We are binging on movies and TV series, a scene never before witnessed. We have created a family football team albeit the insufficient numbers in players. Our family life has never before been this intimate. These moments remind me with nostalgia of my childhood life with my siblings many years ago.

I am happy that I have been a role model for my children and demonstrated that as a family we can collectively do our own house chores. I have diminished the hitherto notion my children held that house chores were the domain of the house help. We have learnt that as a family, we can create our own fun and entertainment.

I never again want to slip into being the busy mum who spends little time with their family in the name of work.  I am happy with this inevitable break and yet it is the reason that I now struggle to introduce myself as CEO and Director. These beautiful times spent with my family has awakened in me the instinctive side of mother and spouse placing me in a truly happy place.

You Can Have Your Cake and Eat It

The flipside of this is the fear. I am unwilling to lose any gains I have had at the family front. This new resolve may lead to my businesses suffering. I have chosen where I will be spending the bulk of my time. The struggle to add on my other titles may be arising from the fear of slipping back into the mode that those titles engage. I am at the point where I believe that while this may happen, it is worth the while and the businesses may not be that important after all.

However, should I pursue this line of thought, there will be undoubtedly an economic effect on resources. Staying at home means that resources will get depleted faster than they are coming in. The home front has few expectations and thus complacency may set in. With less resources, dependency on others too may set in meaning that the self-reliance and sufficiency many of our mothers so desired for us would be diminished.

A Decision Has Been Made

I am certain that I do not want to be completely dependent on someone else. The effects of COVID-19 are not limited to the female gender but far extend to their spouses and partners.  The affirmative action and all the work that has gone into it needs to be guarded. This so that women continue to take a seat at the table without necessarily compromising their maternal and spousal roles. Motherhood and family are a big part of a woman’s identity. They are however not her entire identity. This they must not forget.

This dilemma has had me wondering if there are other women like myself who are struggling with this new scenario. The scenario whereby they have gained a stream of fulfillment from being an available mother and spouse. This while they still hold their hard earned titles like CEO or Director. What are the pros and cons of this re-engaged identity?  Could women be losing their corporate identity? Must women only flaunt one identity at a time? Can we not be Mother, Wife and CEO all in one breath? And why not!

How Women Can Achieve Balance Without Losing Their Identity

In order to achieve this balance, the way forward for women is to make sure that they keep abreast with and embrace the ever evolving technology available online. This aids in working more effectively and efficiently hence helping us achieve a better balance. There are numerous resources available online to help us achieve this. These resources have always been accessible. Time constraints have been the constant deterrent to exploiting these resources.

Now that we are working from home and we have more time in our hands like never before, we can do this. Our minds must stay sharpened at all times. Confining ourselves to all the housework may will not aid us towards achieving this. What we must purpose to do is learn new things for at least two hours every day. We need to listen to podcasts, read widely, register for the webinars and be participatory in all these forums. Further, in order to keep our physical and mental well being at an optimum, we must embark on self-care.

We can achieved this by adopting a healthy lifestyle by consuming healthy meals and working out. In order to keep our psych high we need to stay well-groomed around the house at all times. We need to purpose to grow in our faith by engaging in reading spiritually uplifting material. Lastly, though not the least, we must take the time to reflect. Not just by meditating, but better still by journaling our feelings and thoughts. It is one of the most effective modes of self-therapy.

In my bid to be part of the solution towards ensuring that women stay abreast with both their family and business lives, I have rolled out the Women Lifting Women Series which I facilitate online every Friday from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm. This peer-to-peer online support group commenced on 27th March 2020. We aim at assisting women in business to navigate the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Join Us In The Next Series Meeting

I’d love to connect with you in the next meeting. Come and meet like-minded women entrepreneurs. Learn, share, and get inspiration and support during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Wanjiku Wambugu

A seasoned Woman Entrepreneur with a passion to hand hold other women into becoming leaders in their own space.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Vesto Moseti

    Insightful and relatable piece Wanjiku.
    “Time constraints have been the constant deterrent to exploiting these resources.” I have been working from home over the last couple of months while assisting to tend to the toddlers in my household and I usually retire to bed exhausted. I can only imagine what the women have to juggle with as they try to not lose their corporate identities.
    Inspiring.

    1. Pauline Kamau Kinyua

      Thank you Vesto.
      Indeed it is often a daunting task for women. Thank you for appreciating them.

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