Happy International Women Day, ladies! Today is just like a typical day. I got up, took a bath, and took Ubii to her therapy sessions. There was not really something special. But I woke up with one question, "What have you done in your roles as a woman?"
That led me to deeper thoughts. Have I been content of what I've achieved? Do I still have bigger dreams? What are the challenges for achieving those bigger dreams? How am I gonna manage the challenges that will come along the way?
Do you also have that kind of thought, ladies?
I am mom of two. The first one is having her special needs. The second is a healthy baby boy, thank God. I am a wife to this amazing man. I am a health activist raising society's awareness about the danger of TORCH (Toxoplasmosis, Rubella, Cytomegalovirus, Herpes Simplex Virus) infection to pregnant women. I am a blogger who loves to blog about parenting, family, parenting special needs, and stuff. I am an occasional crafter. I am a coffee addict.
But that's just how people know me.
Who is Grace Melia, really? I am a 26 year old woman. I describe myself as an easy-going person, but a deep-thinker at the same time. People say I look much younger than my actual age. That sometimes makes people, who judge the book by its cover, underestimate me. Quite often, I receive a strange look from my head-to-toe, a judgmental look of how I dress (when the occasion is not a formal one), and an unkind look because of my tattoos. My friends, I mean old friends who have known me for a long time on my daily basis will not judge me because of those things. However, new friends usually do.
It's like for those people, having a special need daughter and having a health community at the same time oblige me to have serious and mature look. It's like for those people, being a mom slash a health activist should make me stop doing duck-face in my photos. It's like for those people, I'm just this childish mom because of my bangs. It's like for those people, I always have to look perfect and strong. Here's a news flash: Well I am NOT that perfect and strong.
I actually do not really care of how people see and judge me. Well, at least, I used to not care.. But, now, sometimes I have to care in order to make my voice heard. I want to raise a campaign about rather serious topics: maternal health and disability. So sometimes I have to change the way I look. I bought some 'serious' outfits such as long-sleeve shirts, pants (not jeans), and blazers. I began to not buy shirts or t-shirts which make my tattoo visible. I even learned to how put a little bit of make up to make me look more mature. But, the last one is a difficult one since I have this baby-face and body.
That... I don't mind. It still makes sense for me, how we are sometimes urged to look more serious and mature to make our voice heard and our action considered.
But sometimes, it also doesn't work. Some people still discriminate me for my age. They seem to think that being young makes me lack of experience and information. Okay, I'm not really surprised to see that fact because my fellow friends who become health or social activist are mostly much older than me. Many times I receive comments like, "Wow, I didn't expect you are this young, Mbak Grace," to which I always answer, "Me being young in fact encourages me to do much more because I still have the time, energy, and health to do so!"
Some people still discriminate me for my baby-face. They seem to think that I'm just a teenager who can't be serious in what I'm doing and what I'm fighting for. For this thing, I can't really do anything if the make-up is not enough yet. So I will basically just smile (and sometimes be grumpy about it, LOL!).
Today, on this International Women Day 2016, I realize that I have so many dreams that I haven't achieved yet. Being a better wife and mom is of course on the list. But, on the bigger scope, I want to do much more so that more and more people know what is TORCH and understand how to treat and respect people with disability. Those are the big pictures. For the concrete steps, let me keep that to myself and do it whenever possible, because now I'm still striving for Ubii's progress.
Today, on this International Women Day 2016, I realize that I am gonna face so many challenges from many areas. But one thing is certain, I have to make my concern heard. How? I will have to figure it out as the time goes by.
Today, on this International Women Day 2016, I invite you to realize that there are so many women with such good potentials, great actions, and amazing thoughts. BUT, not all of them have already been heard. Not all of them have already been seen. Let us give them the chance to speak up and raise their voice, no matter of:
how they look,
how they dress,
how they speak,
how they take a pose on camera,
what they believe in,
what race they are,
what social class they belong to,
what education system they have gone,
Because, really, those things are just the outer side.
Their inner thoughts and dreams are what actually and always matter.
Thank you Pusat Alat Bantu Dengar for seeing me beyond those outer side.
Happy International Women Day 2016, ladies. You've been doing great in your role. Let's celebrate it. Let's step it up, dream bigger, and roar louder!