I'm a product of the Patriarchy

I realized the other day how I’m a product of the patriarchy.

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In my early 20’s I married a man who became the primary breadwinner of our household. Even though I had jobs, I didn’t start working until I was in my 20’s, and the driving force for that work was never financial independence. I worked mainly to feel like I was contributing in some way and for personal fulfillment. I settled for jobs that paid pretty low considering the type of work I did and accepted this notion that “that’s just the way it was”. I fell into a sense of security around the fact that my spouse made good money which meant my under-compensation could be ignored.

Then I got divorced at the age of 34.

Since then I’ve been seeing more clearly how my upbringing in a small town by baby boomers left me uneducated in certain areas. I suck at budgeting. I find myself wanting to ignore things like dealing with taxes. I’m not that great at negotiating sales or salaries. I struggle with feeling confident in asking for what I’m worth, both professionally and personally.

I’ve realized that finances and relationships are pretty linked for me. I keep catching myself seeking security in other people, particularly in men, because deep down there's a part of me that doesn’t believe I can make it on my own. I’ve never really done it before and the modeling I received growing up was that of a woman depending on a man for financial stability.

Now I want to be clear. My parents are amazingly wise people who have a deeply loving and respectful partnership that’s lasted over 40 years. I’ve learned so much from them on how to communicate, be emotionally supportive and how to be an overall decent human being. I seriously won the jackpot with my parents. It’s just that parts of the relationship model that has worked for them doesn’t work for me and the life I want to live.

I bring all this up not to lay blame or make excuses. I bring it up because I think all of us have moments where we realize our upbringing didn’t teach us certain skills to move through parts of life with ease.

And it’s at these moments that we have a choice.

We can either play the victim and blame our circumstances for the way we are, or we can use these realizations as an opportunity to see where we can grow.

This is not always an easy thing to move through. For me there’s been a lot of shame around my lack of business/financial acumen, particularly since I’m trying to run my own business and basically jumped head first into it.

Me trying to run a business....

Me trying to run a business....

I’ve made a lot of mistakes and I guarantee there will be a lot more. However I find that when I allow myself to feel the uncomfortable feelings and reach out to people for support, I start to feel better AND I slowly learn another skill that helps me evolve. I feel empowered because even though I’m leaning on people for assistance, I’m not looking for them to fix my problems or hiding behind the relationship. I’m figuring it out in a way that works best for me by being open, honest and resourceful. This method requires quite a bit of vulnerability, but the benefits have been paramount.

So if you’re finding yourself up against a pretty steep learning curve at the moment, or moving through the realization(s) that you’ve got some more growing to do, please know that you are not alone. This stuff is a part of the human experience and, in my humble opinion, is where the juicy stuff is. It’s what makes us feel alive.

If the shame thing is something you can relate to and you’re looking for resources, I highly recommend looking into Brene Brown’s Shame Resilience Theory. Click here to get started.

Jennifer Noble