“Having it all” is the phrase that pops up into almost every conversations regarding modern women. It can be found stamped on magazine covers atop a glamour shot of a CEO holding her child while making cupcakes. The concept in theory is inspiring and empowering, but is it the message being received?
While these cover stories paint a beautiful picture of amazing accomplishments and impeccable work/life balance, the residual effects for other women sometimes aren’t as glamorous. Women who spend more time at work than with their friends and families are guilt-ridden in the same way stay-at-home mothers are when they contemplate their choice to put their career on hold to focus on their children.
The truth is nobody is (by the magazine cover definition) having it all. Not even that woman on the cover. Part of growing up and analyzing your goals is knowing choices have to be made, and we all need to be more honest, vulnerable and understanding about the tough choices women have to make. Oprah recently said in an interview "if I had kids, my kids would hate me," as she discusses how she made her career her priority. She made a sacrifice to have a larger-than-life career, but the key here is she recognized a sacrifice had to be made.
So as we continue to have this “can or can’t she have it all” debate, here are some things to keep in mind.
Know Your Goals
The only fact we know concerning this “having it all’ conversation is that only you can define what having it all means. You know your goals, your ambition and your limitations better than anyone else. Find out what truly makes you feel fulfilled and satisfied and go for it.
Less Judgement, More Support
When you are setting your career and personal goals, the most important thing to remember is that they are yours. Patronizing a co-worker for her choice to be a mother or gossiping about how another woman chose a CEO role over getting married is only setting us back. We need to support ourselves and be supportive of others and realize these decisions are hard enough without criticism.
When we look at other career women on Facebook or only share the idealized versions of our story, it perpetuates the idea that there are people who accomplish all of these tasks effortlessly, without hardship or sacrifice. The more open and honest we are about our decisions and struggles, the less alone we feel.
If you're currently struggling with work/life balance, remember that you create your own version of “having it all” and make it work for you. It’s your life; there’s no one else who can define your success or happiness but yourself.