“Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question– ‘Is this all?” ― Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
She has two very distinct personalities (No, she is not suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder).
One she has when she meets new people & her family – extended & immediate and another she has when she is with her chosen family.
These two personalities are so different that if an extended family member were to meet a member of her chosen family, the former would rave about what an amazing, quiet & a beautiful person she is while the latter would sit wide eyed and start to laugh hysterically.
One of her personalities, the one that is on display, is created because she has been raised to believe that since she’s a girl, she always has to be at her best. She has to dress well, speak politely & only to voice her opinions when asked, serve the others, and in general to keep others needs before hers.
She is taught that it doesn’t matter “what’s inside as long as the package is pretty.” She isn’t another human being who has emotions & feelings & weird & amazing thoughts of her own but rather someone who is supposed to do what everyone tells her to do.
The other personality, the one that was suppressed by years of conditioning, is brought to life when she meets someone who thinks just like her; someone who wants to know what’s going on inside her rather than telling her what to do; someone who wants to know what’s her favorite color, her favorite foods, her hobbies, her dreams & her thoughts. This person becomes her best friend; her soul-mate. And unknowingly her authentic personality which is based on her likes, dislikes & her thoughts shines through.
She sees the world the way she wants to see it. She isn’t scared of that homeless man on the street or of those boys who are apparently capable of thinking about just “that one thing”.
She gradually realizes that there is more to life than building a formidable career, getting a degree & always looking pretty so that some rich & educated boy would marry her. She is open to world where she can do absolutely anything her heart desires. She can jump off that mountain, trek to the highest peaks, swim in the deepest ocean, kiss that boy she loves and take up that job as a teacher in the country she loves so much.
There are no restrictions of who she has to be & what she has to wear or who she can love. She can at least be her wonderful, filled with “weird” dreams & aspirations self at least with them – her best friends, her soul-mates.
Even if she behaves one way with the family she is born to, she secretly harbors the other her on the inside. She listens to & does everything they say with a smile on her face while on the inside, unknowingly, the real her is dying a little every day. She gets married to the person they feel would “keep her happy”, when what she really wants is to find out what she is meant to do. It’s like she was created just to satisfy the society. And her life should be lived to meet their expectations.
She always fears looking in to the mirror. Because when she does , the woman in it always asks her, “Who is she really?”