Of Goddesses and Doormats

I recently got back into social circulation after half a decade. I’d spent a few years inwardly focused, which were immediately followed by another two of consuming motherhood. Now I am out and about again, and I’ve been bumping in to a lot of people I haven’t seen in ages. Many remark that I look good and seem very happy. I do, I am. Following this observation, they often ask “So, what’s happened?” Expecting me to regale them with a story of what happened to me which resulted in this blissful glow.

from Flickr by Claire L. Evans

I give fanciful responses like “I’m happy because I am underworked and overpaid” or “I’m sleeping with a tantric sex master”, incredulous lies but they receive a better reception than the truth. Would you like to hear the truth about what happened to me which led to this telling aura of contentment? Okay, here it is…nothing, nada, zilch. Absolutely nothing happened to me. I did not win the lotto, marry a man hotter than George Clooney, richer than Warren Buffet, with Sting’s tantric skills. I did not lose 15 kilos and I am not on any happy pills. Something did happen, but it did not happen to me, I happened to it.

I am happy because I have taken responsibility for my happiness, my life and everything in it. Pablo Picasso once proclaimed that there are only two types of women in the world; goddesses and doormats. I don’t know what he meant by this quote, but I love how it provocatively delivers a great wisdom. The purpose of a doormat is to clean the soles of your shoes. It exists to be stepped on, which is why the term is used to describe people who ‘let others walk all over them’; perpetual victims who hardly ever stand up for themselves. Life happens to a doormat. A goddess on the other hand, is a deity. The word evokes images of powerful women, beauty, adoration, a clear sense of self, the antithesis of a doormat.

Goddesses and doormats are polar opposites so extreme that they could not possibly be the only two molds in which women are found, right? Wrong. You are either happening to life – goddess – or life is walking all over you – doormat. You are either the victim of people and circumstances or the mistress of your destiny. There are no in-betweens. Yes, we vacillate between the two. In one situation we may choose goddesshood, in another victimhood. Often victimhood is attractive because if things are happening to us, in spite of ourselves we can blame, seek pity and wait for rescue. Victimhood is easy but it is disempowering. Whereas opting to be a goddess requires taking responsibility for your life and everything in it – your happiness, financial situation, health, career, relationship satisfaction, etc. It’s a scary idea, but it is extremely empowering.

The gift of responsibility is freedom and power, attributes of a goddess. It gives you the ability-to-respond. To be able to change something you must take responsibility for it. It may be easier to choose victimhood, but something amazing happens to you when you choose responsibility, you get to happen to your life.

15 thoughts on “Of Goddesses and Doormats

  1. OTM says:

    Funny, when I read that quote, I understood it as there are down to earth women who selflessly serve, and others, who live in their own self-focused far away land. That’s the thing about ambiguous wisdom. It often cuts both ways.

  2. Cassandra says:

    the day i decided to let my yes maam attitude go all my friends dissapeared along with it… funny how life works

  3. lerato says:

    I don’t know now if am a goodess or doormat. I forgive and forget very fast and my boyfriend will hurt me and the next day ill invite him in and do whatever for him. And he will never address the matter to me. We never apologise to each other. I love him we been together for 4 months known each for 2years.

  4. Zamantuli Ntuli says:

    I love you Kagiso Msimango! You have made such a positive impact in my life.! I am currently studying communications at UNISA I hope to be able to touch other peoples lives one day, in the way that you have touched mine.

  5. bwemi2013g4 says:

    Profound indeed! I needed to hear this. I have been living my life in a shell for as long as I can remember, reacting and not responding to all stimuli. I lived a facade as people saw me as strong and in control. I need to start living and not surviving. I need to be a player and not a spectator in my own life. I choose responsibility today.

  6. dicluttered says:

    Hey Kagiso, your blogs take up my time! I just have to read among all the other reading I am doing! My goodness,, I need more time in my limited 24 hrs a day… can I be special and get a bonus 4 hours just to read all this wealth of advice yo share. Thank, you…

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