The past couple weeks’ worth of posts have certainly resonated. And your comments continue to make us think–and to make us think that we are not alone. None of us are. Here’s some of what’s been going on:
Are You Undecided, Too? had Samantha doing a little soul-searching:
I have briefly read some of the postings on this site, which I think is profound and timely. The itching through that runs through my consciousness is that it is ok to think or dream or believe a girl can do anything, yet the doing and execution is what can undo her. Coupled with a family and the people whose feelings and egos may be bruised and battered along the way. The absolute reality is that any job or hobby that evokes passion requires an equal if not greater sacrifice. That notion of “What do you want to be when you grow up” is not coupled with ok, you can do it, but it’s going to be hard. Mom doesn’t say, “Gee little Sammy that’s great so when you fall in love and get married make sure you can integrate all of your passion and dreams into your marriage.” That would have been the best advice anyone could have given me. Instead I plunged headlong into a decision before I had the courage to really declare my dreams, AND the ramifications of those dreams. So the where do we go from here? Like other people have said, we make up the rules. Each game has a unique set.
Well said! And of that making up the rules idea, Lauren had this to say, in response to Perfection, A Zero-Love Game:
I wonder if part of our problem is that we struggle to find a single “self” in order to satisfy a cultural need to justify our relevance, when in actuality, we are wonderful because we are each a combination of so many “selves.” To be one “self” requires a sort of museum-like static perfection that may work for Barbie, but how can it work for the rest of us? I think I sort myself out one day, the next day something happens that challenges the new myth I created (and accepted) the day before. And so on… Are we treating our lives too much like advertising campaigns, wherein a product’s purpose must be clearly defined (or, at least extremely seductive) to be accepted and desired by the public? I’m not suggesting we propagate the Wonder Woman image of being many things at once, but perhaps we need to cut our “selves” some slack and let the French pastry chef inside each of us live harmoniously with the Nobel-prize winning author we dream of becoming. Maybe if we take the pressure off ourselves to Become, we might find that we actually Are. Is a great piece of music any less so because we don’t know its name or how to classify it?
The pleasures and perils of the comfort zone got you thinking, too. In response to Highway to the Danger Zone, Alison wrote:
A cautionary tale: I have a friend (it’s not me, really) who planned to live and work abroad after we graduated from college. That summer she packed up her stuff and flew to Ireland, where she was supposed to live and work for four months. She had difficult travels and there was some confusion about her living arrangements when she arrived. It was also raining and she was homesick. She was vegetarian and there were no veggie meals to be found. It was the perfect storm of miserable event after miserable event. By the end of her first day she had decided to come back to the states and scrap her plan. All these years later, leaving Ireland after one day remains one of her biggest regrets. Since then she has done many other adventurous things–including packing up and moving to New York for three years. But she’ll always wonder, with regret, what it would have been like to stay and give it a real chance.
That piece struck a chord with Libby, too, who said:
Now this is something I’m all too familiar with myself. Finding myself in expensive New York in a job that brings me very little satisfaction or challenge. In an effort to take control of my own life and decisions, I’ve decided to go back to school next year. Question is: Where? Do I return to my family in Missouri for school and risk never leaving? Or do I make the somewhat ‘reckless’ decision of taking on a load of debt in exchange for my independence? It would be so easy to go back to MO, wouldn’t it? Why is it that ‘comfort’ always seems to go hand-in-hand with the ‘right,’ ‘logical,’ or ‘responsible’ decision? is it possible to be any of the latter three without relegating yourself to the comfort zone?
And what about factoring other people out of our decisions? Nutella identified with Deciding for Yourself:
I just went through this about 6 months ago myself. I felt such loyalty to my employer, but was frustrated in some ways about the lack of opportunity I had to accept by staying with that employer. I was told that in order to receive a significant raise I would need to go find another job offer, and that the company would then counter that offer (not the best system, in my opinion). So I did… and the new job offer that I’d found ended up being more enticing than I’d anticipated. I knew I should’ve felt empowered, happy, and proud, but instead I felt guilty and anxious. Guilty for having options in the midst of a terrible recession and for thinking about leaving my manager and co-workers. Anxious about which decision was “right” and “wrong,” and how selecting one job over the other would impact my career when I have a child (which I hope to do soon).
I decided to take the new job, and I continued to have feelings of anxiety, guilt, and doubt throughout my first several months here. What I’ve realized, finally, is that such feelings are pointless, energy-draining, and damaging. There was no “right” or “wrong” choice–both options were imperfect. Obsessing and trying to make the perfect choice that would lead to the perfect life later on is impossible. And I have a feeling that my old workplace has gotten along just fine without me, despite my fears that they now hate me for leaving. So silly, I know, but somehow deeply ingrained…
Lotta offered some good insight:
When I read this–and detach myself from the actual issue, which I absolutely can relate to–it strikes me how it’s really a question of boundaries. I think you are absolutely right when you say that it becomes comforting to be easy-going. It’s a role women practice to perfection, right? And then it becomes a habit that is hard to break. But, the thing is that whenever we assert ourselves, or make a decision that “hurts” someone else, guess what? They get over it. Maybe they don’t even care all that much to start with. We think that we are all involved with other people, or that our decisions affect them, but maybe what we need to realize is that we are independent beings.
Labeling, judgment, and Us vs. Them. Again. Still inspired this response from PunditMom:
This is a great piece and you ask such a great question. Here’s keeping my fingers crossed that we can leave those shards of glass on the ground and help each other through the ceiling.
And then, there is the Big Kahuna, this week’s dissection of That Study. You know the one. Of Women’s Declining Happiness: The Paradox that Isn’t, Becky wrote:
I love this post. I think we are due for a revolution, and I think it is already underway. Successful women are finding happiness by finally letting go of perfect. Hollee and I have encountered dozens and dozens of successful women who have spent years grappling with the high expectations–but are finally pushing past them to take the great leaps of faith necessary to CHOOSE the path that best fits. It takes guts, but that’s what choice is really all about, right? Choosing? As opposed to Having It All (and Doing It All), as so many of us were raised to believe we must. Funny thing is, there are a million ways to choose. It doesn’t have to be a stark choice between working and staying home… It can be choosing to be a great mom and great worker, but accepting realistic expectations. It can mean choosing to focus on the things we do best–and saying no to all the things we do only because we feel we “should.” Women of our generation need to know: It is OK to Have Enough (instead of Having It All)–and it is OK to be less than perfect.
Shirley got fired up by that one, too:
I think we are due for an “evolution”; we need to evolve from human beings focused on material and physical acquisitions to ones who tend to and nurture our inner core, our spirit, our being… an evolution of our spirits. This should be led by women. It’s time!
To that end, Barbara’s post On Food, Feminism–and dreams of a Fourth Wave got a lot of you inspired. From Allison:
Very inspiring post! Yes to the fourth wave!
And from Katie:
Onto the fourth wave!
Onward, indeed. See you next week!