It’s the question that has been popping up everywhere over the last month – can women have it all? The first article that got everyone talking, featured in The Atlantic and was written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, who left her position of power because she wanted to be at home with her family. Fast forward a few weeks and we now have the world’s first pregnant CEO, Marissa Meyer. At 6 months pregnant, she has already declared that she will only be on maternity leave for two or three weeks, before returning to her chief executive role at Yahoo. So, is Meyer’s dedication to her career showing us that women really can have it all? Or does her actions merely add to the massive amount of pressure already placed on women to have everything?
The career, the house, the husband, the family, the kitchen wiz, the social life, the clean house, and the perfect body, women are expected to be able to do it all (even if they don’t actually want some of it). While there’s no doubt women are capable of juggling many things, the idea that women need to have it all may just be an unnecessary pressure placed on women by other women. Don’t get me wrong, I think women can have it all, I just think we need to define what “all” is. The “all” for one woman may vary greatly from that of another woman, yet for some reason many of us assume women need everything I listed earlier in order to be deemed successful.
Just because a woman appears to have “everything” doesn’t necessarily mean she’s happy or healthy. Ask most working women and they will say that when they are at work they feel guilty for not being at home and when they’re spending time with their family they feel guilty for not doing their work. They let their health take a back sit, until they realise it can’t be left n the bottom of the priorities list for too much longer. Even when they realise this, they still struggle to find the time because work life is too busy and home life is too insane. Many may also suffer from low self-esteem and a lack confidence in their ability to achieve the healthy life. On the outside they may appear to have it altogether, but deep down all these women want is to have more energy, feel more comfortable in their clothes, feel sexier for their husband and have a few spare minutes to do whatever they want when they want. This may come as a shock, but some even question whether the job that they had once worked so had for, is really want they wanted after all.
Many female clients I work with express feelings of guilt if they choose to alter their working arrangements for family or health reasons, as if they feel like they have failed as a woman for not being able to manage the two – being the parent and the professional. The problem is, they never think about what they actually want and whether making this decision will make them happier. I think it’s really important that we all spend a few hours each year to assess the importance and satisfaction levels in various areas of our life. This helps to keep us balanced and focused on the areas that matter the most to us at each different stage of life. It also helps remove the feelings of guilt and gets us to realise that it is completely ok to say that the things we once wanted aren’t going to cut it anymore. Instead of putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves to achieve what we think we should be achieving, this assessment enables us to focus on and work towards what we actually want. For me, having it all is being the best and healthiest version of myself and having a successful, yet flexible career that enables me to enjoy many fun times with family and friends. It doesn’t matter if this is the definition of “having it all”, it’s my all and I’m happy with that.
What would make you feel like you had it “all”?