The Pitfalls of Having it All

Dec 8, 2017

Having it all – Myth, reality, urban legend or just a pithy stress-inducing phrase?

At My Second Act we see this plaguing women, especially those who have attended elite institutions and obtained advanced degrees. They have worked in leading banks and companies, may have opted out or not for personal reasons and then continue to struggle with modern-day parenting/care-giving and full-time workloads. This is what “having it all” is supposed to look like. In reality, it leaves accomplished, smart women feeling inadequate, burnt out or feeling resentful.

This is why it is vital to know that this whole “having it all” shtick has been misinterpreted by everyone. The reason why Feminism hit us hard – was to give us choices. Do you want babies? Go for it! Do you want to be a stay-at-home mom? Go for it! Do you want to work? Go for it! Do you want to do both? Go for it!

When did we start shaming women for not being blissfully happy and grateful while doing everything and for not being perfect all the time? It is impossible to be successful at everything. At some point, even if you succeed spectacularly at something, there will be something else in your life that is way less than perfect.

We need to know that it is unacceptable to shame a woman because she – a. Chose to defer having children or chose not to have any at all b. Chose to juggle motherhood with work and struggle with punishing schedules c. Chose to opt out to raise her family and proclaim she is now “wasting” her potential and education d. Chose to opt in but cannot be consider her a committed employee anymore since she has ended up spreading herself too thin.

We have pushed ourselves towards an unachievable goal and make any women who doesn’t check every single box feel less than worthwhile and inadequate. The pursuit of “having it all” translates into “doing it all – everything, all the time” without adequate support, contribution or acknowledgment. We told ourselves to “Lean in” without changing the entire context in which these tenets are supposed to operate. Now we are learning to “Lean Out”.

As a collective, women in our generation are choosing to bite off more than they can chew – in the sense of a deliberate over-burden. This is either to assuage guilt or because they don’t want to be seen as “soft”. Making choices that were traditionally perceived as “male” or “female” cannot define or justify spreading one’s self impossibly thin. More often than not, it is women who seem to be in a race to prove they can “do it all” and also look perfect while executing all their responsibilities. In reality, both women and men care about both their personal and professional lives equally.

Making sense of all the doctrines and jargon lies a simple truth – you can have it all, you just cannot have it all at the same time. This can be incredibly freeing when you actually embrace it. It means you can actually allow yourself prioritize one thing over another and have successful outcomes with more than one endeavour.

Let’s all be the happiest and best versions of ourselves. Talk to women in your position here, share your experiences here and let’s together redefine what it means to have it all.

This is your Second Act. Let’s begin.