I was reading a chapter of Sheryl Sandberg’s fabulous book, Lean In, last night, and she was commenting on the pressures of having it all – and saying, quite rightly that this is an impossibility. It reinforced a comment at the Sydney LBD dinner the other night, where someone said ‘welcome to Crazytown’. It has made me reflect just how hard we are on ourselves in terms of what we are ‘supposed’ to achieve.
A clean house. Perfectly behaved children. The ideal relationship. And all this whilst being a business superwoman.
Sorry, but that just doesn’t fly with me.
My house is generally speaking, a bit – well, untidy. As the working week goes on – and to be quite frank, as most women with their own businesses or trying to scale the corporate ladder would know, the working week is 7 days – it gets messier. I have an ironing pile that is a close imitation of Mount Vesuvius just before it took out Pompeii. Last week, I cheerfully admit to forgetting to give my children their school lunches. On Friday night, my kids and my husband copped a very loud (and fairly long) stream of ‘not happy’ as something work-related went pearshaped.
And that’s just home stuff. As for work…
The sad thing is, that this is all, when it comes down to it, fairly trivial stuff. But the pressure to be the best of the best in every area of our lives is something that we, as women in the twenty first century, can’t seem to shake. And even sadder, we tend to put it on each other by not being prepared to say “it just doesn’t matter”.
This needs to stop. And it needs to stop now, because nobody is Superwoman. No woman has an ideal life. And no woman should be expected to.
We need to start embracing our perceived ‘weaknesses’ and realise that being vulnerable, and human, is not a bad thing. Being able to say ‘this is nuts’ is OK. It doesn’t make you less of a person. It makes you real.
I am happy to say ‘my house is untidy’. Because is it impacting on my happiness? Is it impacting on my children’s ability to enjoy life? When it comes down to it, will my partner care?
No. Because if I am not worrying about appearing as the perfect woman, then I am not stressed. I am not constantly cross, and worrying about what others think of me. I am more relaxed, and fun, and interested in what is going on around me. I am more able to deal with work challenges (which are also not the end of the world – even though they might feel like it at the time!).
We need to reinforce to each other as women how amazing we are – because it’s simply not happening enough. We need to say ‘men aren’t expected to deal with this, and they generally aren’t reinforcing this stereotype, so why are we?’
Say hello to Crazytown – but rather than seeing it as a bad place to be, see it as a place of refuge. Everyone is entitled to be a bit out of control.
Because that’s real life – so choose that. Not an unrealistic fantasy. Now, where did I put my iron… ha!