Women are under extraordinary pressure today to “have it all.” To have the dream job, to raise not only well-behaved but also gifted children, to keep the house in order, and to keep up their appearances.
Some women believe “having it all” is possible; some do not. In reality, the definition of “having it all” needs to change.
We are not cookie-cutter personalities. All women do not have the same dream. Some are ambitious and want to rise to the top in their careers. Others dream of being homemakers—which is never something other women should criticize. Others want something in the middle.
Yet, today—and this happens to young men, too—young women seem to be funneled into the same path: College. Career. Marriage. Family. If you stray from this path, there is a societal pressure and mindset that you have failed.
The thing is, society’s standard does not equate to a happy life. In fact, meeting that standard is practically impossible even if you have a personality type that would thrive in that lifestyle!
There are only so many hours in a day, and the reality is that you cannot “have it all” in the way society has defined it.
I’ll never forget the quiet realization that fell over my global communications class during a Q&A with some successful guest journalists several years ago. These were the type of journalists who are out there living the dream. They traveled to far off places, spoke with amazing people, and really experienced life on a global scale.
We were all off in daydreams picturing romanticized views of their lifestyles when someone asked how it affected their relationships back home.
A girl sitting behind me scoffed loudly at the question. She was the career type. She thought the question was immature and inappropriate.
The girl who asked the question was smart, though. She was clearly not completely career-focused. She wanted to know if this type of journalism was something she could actually do and be happy with.
As it turns out, everyone’s romanticized view of the job was quickly shattered; one journalist shared she was single and had never married, and two others shared they had both been divorced—though they had found love with one another.
Our teacher, also a traveling journalist, confirmed the same: she had trouble making relationships work as well because of her job.
For these journalists, their careers took priority. They no doubt have amazing lives, amazing stories, and success, but because of how much they have to travel, they have had to sacrifice relationships and marriages.
The students were rather quiet as they considered if that’s something they could do.
There is no right or wrong answer for what you choose to pursue in your life, but you have to be honest with yourself. What does your “having it all” look like? What will you have to sacrifice to get there?
Your “all” does not need to look like someone else’s. If you want to be a stay-at-home mom, do it. If you don’t want kids, that’s OK, too. If you want a meaningful career and a family, you’ll find a way to balance it.
We can’t be everything. So just be who you want to be.