Real Talk: I’m Tired of Being Told to “Have It All”
When I grew up, society had a lot to say about women and their role in society. Girls were told to be pretty, sexually conservative, have a career, have a spouse, and have kids. They were told it was the “right way to live,” and propped up ladies who somehow managed to do it all as what we should aspire to be.
To this very day, every single “have it all” item is considered to be a status symbol for women. We are told that having a spouse, kids, career, and looks is what we need to do. We’re still told that we “need to have it all” in order to feel fulfilled in our lives. Many of the women I know still struggle to earn all those checkmarks on the list...and still, they’re told to achieve more.
These days, being a woman who “has it all” expanded to include having Pinterest-perfect food, a spotless home, and raising kids via a difficult-to-maintain crunchy lifestyle. It seems that the bar gets ever-higher, and frankly, I’m done with it.
Truth be told, I don’t want to “have it all.”
One of the reasons I really dislike being told to be a mother, wife, employee, and expert housekeeper is because I really don’t want all that stuff for my life. Every single major bulletpoint on the “have it all” list requires a LOT of work—especially when it comes to balancing kids, a career, and housework.
When you add the new “have it all” standards of also keeping a modelesque body and cooking crazy good meals every night, all that having it all looks like is a massive laundry list of work. Believe it or not, I’m not really into having all that much responsibility on my plate.
In an ideal world, I would have a spouse, a pet, a career, and maybe a nice looking body. People who insist that I have to have kids and raise them a certain way just can’t handle me wanting something else. I get a lot of flak for choosing a party life with a career in the arts. Sometimes, total strangers tell me that it’ll get in the way of having kids.
I have a life I want to live, and I know how I want to do it. And yet, when I tell people that I know how to live my life, I’m derided for it because I look female. I’m told I’m supposed to want more, but what about my desire to actually rest, relax, and enjoy my life? Apparently, that’s not part of the plan I should want at all.
You don’t need to “have it all” to be happy.
Do you really need a house, a job, a gaggle of kids, a spouse, and an Instagram look to be happy? No, not really. Those things are great and all, but truth be told, nothing is required of you to be happy except for you to do things that are emotionally rewarding for you.
Some girls just want to be housewives. Others want to be career women. Even more, like me, are okay with just being creatives who live life for self-expression. All of these things are okay!
You know what’s not okay? Feeling like it’s wrong to want less than what society wants you to achieve. Wanting something different isn’t wrong, nor does it make you defective. I have serious beef with the way that our society insinuates that women who don’t want some aspect of “the life”, are defective.
We all have only one life to live. We might as well make it one that we enjoy living. So, fuck what everyone else says. We don’t need to have it all, if we don’t want it all. What’s so hard for people to get about that?
The standards of “having it all” are painfully tiring.
Did you ever notice how many crazy standards are placed on women? Women are expected to do the bulk of housework and childcare, all with a smile on their faces. To “have it all,” they also have to be a corporate success, act like tiger moms, keep their spouses satisfied, and keep their looks up.
Everyone knows that raising a child and balancing a career isn’t easy, especially in a society that increasingly believes that kids need constant monitoring well into their teens. To actually make gains in a corporate world, you often will need to have your job take over your life. Add that to a strict diet, a Pinterest-worthy house, and you will be seeing a life where you really don’t have any time for yourself.
Assuming that you don’t have an entire staff of people helping you out, the life you’d have to lead to “have it all” would be downright exhausting. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather enjoy life rather than be constantly working for others.
Why aren’t guys being pressured to “have it all” too?
Studies repeatedly show that men aren’t expected to take on a major share in childcare. They also aren’t expected to keep up their looks, work out, or stick to a diet. The casual American stereotype of a successful man is someone who has a good career and does whatever the hell he wants.
Back in the 1950s, women weren’t expected to have a job. They let their kids go out and play while they kept the home nice. In 2019, leaving your kids to go out and play will get you a call from CPS. So, they constantly need monitoring. Careers are more demanding than ever, and the cost of living is sky-high too. Even so, women are often the ones to do the majority of housework.
Overall, women are expected to pick up more and more of the slack. So, why aren’t we pressuring guys to “have it all” in the same way? If you ask me, that’s just one more double standard that needs to be cast aside.
Here’s a novel idea: let’s do what we want to do!
I find people who are happy to be the best role models on Earth. They are often the ones who live the most genuine lives, have great stories to tell, and treat people well. If “having it all” makes you happy, go for it. If not, design the life you want to have.
What I’m saying is that we need to stop telling others how to live their lives, and encourage them to seek out their own happiness. Or better still, maybe we all should just live and let live, instead.
Cover image via Southern Living