September 6, 2011 by Heather
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the expectations placed upon women from various sources (themselves, society, etc). Yes, at the age of 25 I finally feel comfortable referring to myself as a woman. A barely-there woman, but still a woman nonetheless. I think 26 will seal the womanhood deal. I don’t know where I come up with these ages… the other day I told Andrew that I couldn’t be expected to be somewhat emotionally stable until I’m at least 31. Needless to say, he laughed and said I was ridiculous. If only I had a nickel for every time he had told me that in the past three years.
It seems unfair to previous generations of extraordinary women to say that the expectations of women are greater now than they’ve ever been. However, they are pretty intense these days. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we have come so far as females, and as a result of that we are constantly told that we can have it all if we want it badly enough. We can be President of the United States, a Mother of Three, a Doting Wife, a Fashionista, and have dinner on the table by 6. There is even a movie coming out this month called “How Does She Do It?” – starring the fabulous SJP – that is all about the crazy life of a woman desperately trying to have it all (whether she succeeds or not is yet to be determined). Beyonce is telling us that we can run the world. And maybe we can.
I see a problem with it, though. The “I-can-have-it-all” mindset can lead to confusion (should I have a career, a baby, or both?), unsatisfaction (I should be doing other things right now), insecurity (I will never be good enough at my job and at my marriage and at parenting, etc), and ultimately being stretched thin.
We are expected to do and be so much to so many. And while I think that is a wonderful responsibility, I think we need to be realistic in our expectations of ourselves. Sure, there are forces all around telling us how to look and what to do and how to be – but they are not me, or you. They don’t know what I desire, truly desire, most. The calling placed on one life is not the same as the calling placed on another, so why should we be expected to all look and do and act the same?
After all, I think that is the most beautiful part of this thing called womanhood. We are all so very different from each other, all unique in our own way. (You’re special, just like everyone else, ha). We are luminous, exquisite, and complicated creatures. So again, I ask, why should we be expected to all look and do and act the same?
Tomorrow I shall list a few of the more obvious expectations we face as lady-folk, but for now let’s belt it out: