These days, it is all about choice. From the moment you wake up (toast or cereal?) right until bedtime (do I turn the heater up or down?) at every turn, we are faced with a myriad of choices. In fact, this world offers us a sometimes overwhelming array of decisions even before we have our first cup of coffee in the morning.
What about the big choices? The choices that shape our lives, so they say. Most often, these are the choices that previous generations of women did not even have. Today, women have their pick of schools, industries and careers. All you have to do is choose one. Somehow though, this abundance of choices does more harm than good.
When I was still in college, I was one of the few who really wanted to be a full time mom. While I loved soaking up all the knowledge I could in school, I knew that, unlike my peers, I was going to have kids, get married, and put my children first before anything else.
While I am happy with my choice, sometimes I wonder about “the other side of the fence.” This “grass is greener” complex is felt by many modern women. Sadly this constant pining for what could have been it can sometimes lead to detrimental results such as depression or a nervous breakdown. Ironically, because while we are constantly told that we can “have it all”, it is hazardous to ourselves to actually do it.
To circumvent these “detrimental results” we need to make choices and go on with life. Here are four of these common choices that we need to make.
- Live by the seat of your pants or settle down. We all remember the thrill of jumping on a plane at the drop of a hat. However, once you’ve started your family, impromptu trips like this need to take a back seat. True, unlike the years past, women nowadays are free to travel the world and live spontaneously with nary a disapproving glance from anyone. But if you bring children and a husband into the equation, these trips seem almost impossible. One can’t go around constantly trying to revive this impulsiveness while juggling a family. At some point, one of these is bound to suffer. At the end of the day, a choice needs to be made. Will you be a fully devoted stay-at-home-mom or will you continue your life as a jet setter?
- Pursue a professional degree or start a family.The allure (and availability) of higher education has lead to an influx of women studying to be professionals. More women are taking up law, getting a degree in medicine, or achieving that highly prized PHD, driven to go the lengths to pursue their dreams. The bad news is that it is often never possible to properly balance these pursuits of higher education while maintaining a healthy home life. From start to finish, medicine takes at least ten years of study. A law degree adds on four more years of study after college, plus a year of review for your license. A PHD may mean anywhere from an additional four to ten years before getting that doctorate. Children are a full time job, and require as much dedication as these diplomas. A family and the diligent quest towards a successful academic life just don’t mix. Again, the choice needs to be made.
- Be a full time career woman or a full time mom. Deadlines and meetings, 18 hour days, and hardly any weekends; this might as well be the job description for “career woman”. A thriving full time career often requires a person to put in 80 hour weeks, leaving no time for the self or for anybody else. Even Martha Stewart, one of the most successful women alive, had to leave her child in the care of others while building her empire. These days, women will have to choose between staying at home and being the big kahuna in a multi-national company.
- Indulge your desires or raise a family. We all have our little vices. For some it’s overpriced gourmet coffee, for others its designer dresses and the latest “it” bag. When it comes to a point where a choice between these vices and raising a family needs to be made, some important things have to be taken into account. A designer bag can cost as much as a month’s rent, that weekend in the Bahamas could have been a mortgage payment. Building a family is expensive. With everything from food to good schools costing an arm and a leg, unless you’re actually Martha Stewart, there’s often little room for vices. At this point, it comes down to which is higher up on your list of priorities.
Women today are faced with many options on how to live their lives. Often, this can become overwhelming. Choosing between what you want and what is the best for you may be difficult, but it has to be done. A life where you can “have it all” is an urban myth, and we women need to realize that we shouldn’t hold ourselves to unachievable standards that may hurt us even before we get to the end.