Happiness first

Happiness first

Adah Koivula

About a month ago, my uncle said I should stop talking about football like I know what I am doing. He continued to say girls shouldn’t talk about football like they know anything about sports and “guy stuff.” He said I was too young, uneducated and a female to talk about politics.

It stung. These are things I really enjoy, and I’m told that my vagina makes me unable to be interested? I knew then that I didn’t have a place in my life for that negativity.

I have always been a family person. Growing up with 18 aunts and uncles, and as the oldest of 37 cousins, my life revolved around family. I grew up thinking that if you have no family, you have nothing.

I love my family, and will always feel so blessed to have so many people who love me. But, growing up in a society where women are not valued beyond their ability to birth children and quickly recover to their “pre-baby body” is degrading.

I grew up watching women have child after child, exhausted and miserable with their husbands barely looking at them or helping with their children.

It is oppressive living among people who don’t think women are smart in math, science or politics. Men can do and say what they want, while the women are expected to make dinner in the kitchen and remain uninvolved in discussions. That’s ridiculous and outdated.

When I started to notice this gap between women and men, I couldn’t ignore it. I am everything a female is not expected or allowed to be, and I knew I couldn’t change who I was. I started to remove myself from situations in family gatherings where I would feel like a lesser human because of my gender — in essence, pushing family members away.

Cutting ties with my family has made me a happier and more confident person. I will always love my family, and they will always be my family. But family supports one another, and the family I was born with does not. I don’t have space in my life for sexist, bigoted jerks, regardless if they are related.

It is crucial to put your own happiness first. Your family will always be part of who you are, but removing yourself from a unsupporting group of people is key to personal success. You cannot be a confident woman surrounded by bigots who only tear women down.