Having it all is bullshit. ‘All’, it’s an impossible, mystical pinnacle that will eternally be out of your reach, no matter how hard you try. So stop, stop now I beg of you.
When you hear ‘having it all’ what is your immediate thought? Is it a thought of all the things that YOU would like to achieve, the person you would like to be. Or is it what is measurable as a quantifiable success: the proof that you’re happy, loved, successful, to others? Unfortunately, our eternal pursuit of these things; money, own home, fast car, marriage, etc. – has us chasing symbols and believing they are the same things the experience they represent.
I’m struggling with this a lot at the moment, I’m searching for the next, for the tomorrow and the success. When in reality on paper I have everything I actually want – own successful business, own home, dog, holidays and disposable income, but why is that not enough, why is that not enough ‘all’ for me?
Whilst I would never take away the pressures men are under, and I don’t want to make this post an us v them ramble, men are usually under pressure to succeed at one thing, work, and are given the support to do that, both in their personal life and in the media. Women are held to a different standard; we must do it all, and we must do it all well.
I’m going to share with you exactly what the negative impact of having it all, or the journey to get to it looks like, for me.
I work a lot, I choose to work a lot. I work an average of 50 hours per week for my various freelance clients. It’s work that honestly I love, I am incredibly lucky *and worked very hard* to have been able to build a business of my own that supports me. I work from my home office, my sofa, coffee shops and from time to time in-house for clients. I stare at a screen, I create content that helps brands carve their niche online. I do it very well. But never quite ‘well’ enough, because I don’t ‘have it all’.
I can’t afford my own external office space like others can. I don’t have a team of people, like others have. I’m not held in high esteem and lauded in my industry as an expert, like others are.
I feel like crying about this sometimes. In fact I’m writing this in my favourite cafe and on this exact spot last week I did exactly that, I got so frustrated that I wasn’t enough in my job that I cried, in public, into my coffee. I clearly needed to cry, I needed it out of me, because it made me realise some things;
- I don’t want an external office – I love working at home cos it means my lovely rescue pup is right by my side, I have my Nespresso machine on hand and I get to work the hours I want
- I don’t want staff, I’ve had them before and I don’t want the responsibility. I love working by myself, for myself and my business would be no ‘better’ for having staff, it would only be bigger and bigger is not always better
- I may not be an expert world wide in the social media world, but I am considered one locally, I have been asked today to speak again at Leeds University, as an expert in my field. I compered an event a few weeks back, thanks to my expertise in my field.
So there you see, in terms of having it all, I already do have all the things I want, even if not the elusive ‘all’ that I was striving for.
So what I am saying is this.
If you find yourself wanting to have it all, stop. Stop and look at the reality of what YOU want, the things that you want regardless if anyone else ever saw them. Because peace of mind and personal growth is much, much more important than living up to the expectations of the media or others.
Remember, it’s society that wants women to prove their worth. Not other women. If you are doing something that isn’t quantifiable, it is still valuable. If your house is a mess, that’s ok. If your body isn’t like everyone else, that’s ok, if you’re relationships are complicated and private, that’s ok. You are doing a great job with the all you already have.
You, and I, need to remember that “having it all” is a faux end-goal. It’s simply an idea of how “good” your life is based on how things seem, or appear. You get the job then you have to keep working at it. You find the relationship then you have to keep loving. “Having it all” is not an accomplishment, it is a balancing act, one that you often have to sacrifice for.
If I want the external office, I would sacrifice being with my dog and a big chunk of money.
If I want staff, I would sacrifice the joy of working whatever hours I want, whenever I want
If I want to be world wide expert in my field, I would sacrifice the important work I do for my clients as I would have to focus more on my own development that theirs.
I will keep reminding myself of that. Having it all is an immeasurable end goal that will always be out of reach, even when you have all of the all you want.
I’m reading (well listening to the audio book) of Jen Sincero’s book You Are A Badass, if you are feeling like everyone else is getting a slice of the pie and you’re not, this book will help! As will the Emma Gun Podcast, Emma is honestly the most genuine person I have listened to on a podcast, there is no pretence or agenda, she just chats with other awesome humans about life, living and all the bits in between. She interviews Jen and it’s a goodie, she also chats to the Pixiwoo sisters Sam & Nic, Brandon Truaxe founder of Deciem, Mother Pukka and heaps more!