Balance. This is a word we hear daily regarding how we as women are supposed to live our lives. As a wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend, I’ve pondered this idea of “balance” for a long time. According to Oxford Languages the definition of “balance” is as follows:
Oxford, you just said a mouthful. Oof.
Be thin but not skinny.
Be curvy but not fat.
Be assertive but not bossy.
Speak your mind but don’t get emotional.
Make time for yourself but put your family before your own needs.
Age gracefully but make sure to keep a youthful appearance.
Feel free to be sexually liberated but don’t be a slut.
Dress in a way that makes you feel confident but don’t give people the wrong idea.
Build an independent life for yourself but not so much that you intimidate men.
Make sure you breast feed your baby but don’t ever let anyone see you do it.
Make sure you gain plenty of weight when you’re pregnant but get back down to your original weight ASAP.
Be a feminist but don’t lose your femininity.
Have lots of children but be prepared to give up your career to raise them.
Make sure you “lean in” at work, home and school but don’t overextend yourself.
Now take all these items and throw a little ethnic diversity on top and holy smokes do we have a mess!
When is it all going to be enough? As women we are inundated with mountains of pressure from society, social media, men and mostly other women to be everything. To be perfect. To be “balanced”. Is this even possible? No. No it is not! As women one of our greatest strengths is also one of our greatest challenges: we care too much.
How often do you all feel an even distribution of weight enabling you to remain upright and steady? How about a time in which different elements in your life are equal or in the correct proportions? Are you often able to keep the variables in your life steady position so that they don’t fall? Do you find yourself often comparing the value of (one thing) with another in your life? Yeah, me neither.
Did you know that as of 2020 women still only earn 82 cents to the dollar compared to men? Dad Bod is also widely accepted but we’re supposed to be thin and gorgeous forever. Men get overly praised for all the activities women do on a daily basis while we continue to be unsung heroes. Seriously, a man washes one dish, “babysits” their children, or buys some freaking tampons and they’re an inspiration!
Over the past century women have evolved into self-sufficient, independent and incredibly important contributors to society and yet the bulk of the pressure is still placed onto our shoulders. Why? One answer is always the “patriarchy” still trying to hold us back to this antiquated ideal of what a woman should be. But that’s too easy. Honestly, I feel the greater answer is us. Women and other women. Dude, we are seriously the best and the worst!
We are the ones who place unattainable pressure on ourselves and others to be EVERYTHING. We are constantly flooded by media and social media with “stories” of perfection. Perfect waistlines. Perfect social lives. Perfect children. Perfect relationships. Perfect friendships. Perfect meals. Perfect vacations. Perfect workouts. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. We are constantly setting the bar higher and higher for each other and fail to take the time to cheer each other on along the way. We forget to take the time to give each other pep talks and offer a helping hand when we see a friend drowning in responsibility. Most of all, we forget to take a long hard look at ourselves and embrace that we are enough and quite often we are the whole world to someone else in our lives.
I’m a huge fan of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and the latest season has Midge really examining the role women play in life when the men start to fall apart. She says, “at what point are we going to wake up and realize we’re the ones who’ve been in charge all along?”. We are pillars of strength capable of so many great things and need to encourage each other on our respective journeys of life. We need to help each other build our strength and find balance but also remember to be there when others start to waver. This gift of empathy is something that runs deep in our gender and is what makes us the most powerful beings on planet earth. I know we’re not perfect, but we are so damn capable. We are freaking unicorns.