Okay, surviving in the zombie world is “having it all”, because that’s about all there is to be had. But whether it’s a fictional character like Michonne or an everyday pre-zombie-apocalypse woman, the question to ask before answering, “Does this woman have it all?” is “What does having it all even mean?”
Society defines and dissects which women have achieved the goal of having it all, and looks upon those who seem not to have achieved it with disdain. Is “having it all” defined as holding a management role in business; having a child (or even better, children); marrying a wonderful man; maintaining a great body from hot yoga, cross training or some other new fitness craze; being surrounded by a supportive circle of friends; and a living in a home with a long private driveway and landscaped pool? That was exhausting just to type. I’m not sure I can imagine having all that.
In the article titled “Can Women Have It All? A New Model”, published January 30, 2014 in Psychology Today from Pressure Proof by Paula Davis-Laack, JD, MAPP, she says, “For me, it’s about having choices (to start a business, get married, have kids, travel for a year, etc.). It looks completely different for the next person.”
So the issue isn’t who drives a 2014 Escalade to soccer practice and oversees a $2 million deal before the half. It’s about women knowing what they want, going out and getting it, and not being questioned about their choices. If a woman wants to focus on achieving success in her career, having healthy relationships with family and friends, or fulfilling extracurricular goals like running a marathon, she should not be thought of as less because she hasn’t married and made mini versions of herself. By the same token, a woman who chooses to be a full-time mom shouldn’t be chided by women who call themselves feminists while not supporting their fellow woman in her different choice. If a woman marries and wants to enjoy the relationship she has with her husband without getting pregnant in the first five years, or ever, she should not be judged for that either.
A friend of mine who is a successful doctor married an equally successful attorney and continues to endure comments like, “That’s too bad you don’t have any children.” Who says that when a woman proclaims “I do” she is signing a letter of intent to procreate? (That could depend on what state the vows are exchanged in, I guess. While I enjoyed visiting San Antonio and seeing the Alamo a few years ago, I would be afraid to have this conversation about women having it all in parts of Texas, based on some recent legislative decisions there.)
I’ve read enough self-help articles to know that no one makes us feel a certain way: we are responsible for owning our feelings. But sometimes the scales of popular opinion tip in a way that begins to wear on a person. I often feel as if society revolves around families. And with nearly all of my friends married with children, I sometimes feel like a mythical unicorn because I am single, never been married, and without a child.
Do I need to marry and have children to “have it all”? What if I want to explore the rest of what life has to offer? I’m a woman who left a corporate job to invest full time in my business, Laugh to Live, with a mission of promoting laughter to as many people as possible. I’m in a spicy, committed relationship. I have many friends and a loving family. I ran my first marathon four months ago. My version of having it all may look a bit different than that of many women…and?
The key is to decide what it is that you want and go after it, without concern about traditional expectations or being judged by others—even those closest to you. Research professor Dr. Brene Brown is quoted in the article “Can Women Have It All? A New Model” as saying, “Perfection is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis or missed opportunities. The fear of failing, making mistakes, not meeting people’s expectations, and being criticized keeps us outside of the arena where healthy competition and striving unfolds.”
Remember, you can always re-define what “having it all” looks like, and you probably should throughout your life. You will change and life will take unexpected turns. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself to be some version of you that no longer fits or suits you. The only person you need to please, is you!
Follow Jeannine on Twitter @laughinglu and check out: LaughToLive.net, NotPrinceCharming.com, and He’s Not Prince Charming When… on Facebook.