We live in an age in which "being a woman" is no longer synonymous with being someone’s wife or mother. We can be founders, employees, radical activists, mothers, and wives all at the same time—or none of the above.
Still, though, the patriarchy remains alive and well. As a startup co-founder, I feel especially lucky to have had the opportunities I’ve had as a woman in tech—but for the same reason, I'm hyper-aware of the obstacles women face in the startup world. If you are an empathetic and caring manager, men peg you as weak. But if you try to act like an alpha, they see you as aggressive.
But there’s widespread confusion between assertiveness and aggression. Many people (men and women alike) think that in order to be more assertive, you need to be more aggressive—when in reality, you can be sensitive, empathetic, and assertive.
In my journey as an entrepreneur, a mother, and a woman, I’ve learned that the most essential foundation of mental health is self-care, a term that is definitely having a moment in the zeitgeist. But what does it even mean, anyway?
Self-care is more than bubble baths and cucumber slices (though there’s nothing wrong with a good spa day). Yes, we deeply care about our kids, our work, our husbands, our family members. But seeing your needs as the last priority doesn’t translate to being a "good" person, a "good" mom and wife, or a "good" boss.
It’s time to start defining self-care in a new way. Here’s what I wish more women understood about mental health and self-care: