This isn’t a post about Ms.A. This isn’t a post about mental health. This isn’t a post about philosophical counselling. This is a post about expectations. Priorites. Compromises. Sacrifices… and Relationships.
I want to blame hormones and society and culture and those very expectations, but really, this one’s on me. When I put it out there for people to suggest topics, 2/3 of the suggestions were to write about something “you must know a lot about, … being an independent, strong, single career woman.” I think that was the first time hearing a sentence with the words ‘independent and strong’ stung as much as it did, but it does need to be addressed.
Being a woman, there is this notion of being one or the other; you're either career-focused or family-focused.
Since I can remember, my ambitions have been somehwere in the skies, accompanying some of the expectations I was held to and held myself to. My priorities have been different and it’s starting to feel like those priorities have either compromised the life I could have had or will go in vain. I am grateful, as I heard a coworker say, I almost have more blessings than I can count on my hands and feet, but society and people keep telling me something is missing.
Apparently after graduating, the next right step is to get married. So why have I, why have we, as women, worked so hard to get to get that equality, that degree, that credibility? To become someone’s overeducated and overqualified housewife? No flippin’ way. I want to pursue higher education. I want to do amazing, great things. I want to change lives, I want to change the world and to be honest, I can’t see myself being able to do any of that when I have to consider the feelings of a significant other, or a nursing baby, or elderly in-laws.
In conversation with someone, I was told that their boss, another ‘career woman’ had gotten pregnant and married over the holiday season. There was a distinct tone of disappointment. As though this woman had done something wrong. How could she have ‘settled down.’ She had “caved.” Apparently, strong and independent seem to be synonomous with unmarried and without children. Ironically, this woman is regarded in a similar fashion (as strong and independent) by many others yet she has two kids. So not only do we have society holding us to these expectations, we are holding each other to these expectations. What does that leave us ‘younger’ generations to believe about aspiring to be that successful woman? Choose one or the other? Eff that.
It's a little overwhelming.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to run out into the street and set my Victoria Secret bra on fire, or boycott the opposite sex (who are we kidding), but seriously, these expectations are enough to drive a sane woman crazy, and half of us are already off our rocker by the time we finish school and get our careers going. Growing up our priority is to get an education, then it’s to get married and start a family and if we don’t do that we risk not getting married at all because we have become ‘too smart,’ ‘too independent,’ ‘too strong’ … “no one is going to want to take care of you if you’re THAT indpendent” Such distortion. Be independent, but not TOO independent. You still want the man to think he’s the man. Oh please… My man wouldn’t need my reassurance to know he’s the Man.
So what have I done? Have I lost my opportunity? Am I at the threshold where I could give in and pursue a personal life instead of a professional one? Have I already done that? I don’t think so. At least most nights I don’t. I’ve postponed that life, for sure, but I don’t think it’s all or nothing.
My mom was married at 18 and had me when she was 21. I think as times change, our priorities change, the world around us changes, circumstances change, our timelines have to change too. A friend sent me a message today, said it reminded her of me, it said;
“I could settle down, but I can’t settle” ..
Damn rights. Follow your dreams, follow your heart, continue on YOUR journey and one day, it’ll intersect with someone who also chose to make those efforts, compromises and sacrifices that you made. You can have it all, you will have it all. It may not be on society’s timeline, but it will be ON YOUR TERMS.