The other day, a few girlfriends and I were chatting about missed windows of opportunity.
One lamented that she had found love but felt like she hadn’t built her career like she would’ve wanted.
One confessed that she was proud of the career she had built but was starting to feel like love was off the table.
I was somewhere in between, having just gotten my start in the nursing world pre-children but working very minimally from home with no prospect of huge professional growth anywhere in the near future.
COVID-19 has certainly added insult to injury, what with its huge economic impact turning the job market into a dumpster fire. And really, how are people meeting people even if they want to find love? Over ZOOM?
But it caused me to have a very frustrated conversation with my husband about how even in 2020, women are still being faced with impossible choices that leave them feeling like they can’t really have it all. Let me just insert here that even if women are actually content with where they are at, there are infinite societal pressures to want more.
Let me give you an example: I am home 100% of the time with my kids. I work from home weekend mornings and sporadically throughout the week. Am I crushing glass ceilings and bringing home the proverbial bacon? No. Do I love being with my kids and teaching them and caring for them myself? Yes. Do I miss going to an actual job or contributing to society in a different way? Sometimes. Do I feel bad for not actually wanting more as a woman and self-proclaimed feminist? Always. Do I realize this stage of life will pass by in the blink of an eye and there is still time to fulfill other dreams? Of course. Do I still feel conflicted about this topic almost every day? You bet.
But what infuriates me more than anything is how FREQUENTLY women feel this way and how INFREQUENTLY men do. Now, I will admit, it’s not completely fair for me to generalize all men. But in my own observation and conversations with the ones I know, they don’t seem to have these same internal struggles.
My poor husband often says to me, “If you miss working, go back! We can figure it out!” To which I respond, “But I’ll miss the kids!” To which he replies, “But you’ve done it before and it was OK!” To which I say, “Ya but that was different and now I’m used to it.” “Ok,” he’ll sigh, “then don’t go back to work.” Then I yell, “I knew it, you WANT me to be a housewife! It’s not that easy! I want to go to work but ya know, it’s hard!” And then we both realize how bougie we sound, even tossing around the option when others have no choice, but SHIT. It’s a battle of the brain versus heart versus reality DAILY.
I’m not writing this because I have a solution. I absolutely do not. I am writing to remind you that love is always on the table. And a career is always on the table. They may fall outside the specs of a standard window of opportunity, but they’re there. In the meantime, try to be aware of those thoughts that sneak in, telling you should want more, more, more. If you are killing it at your career and haven’t made tons of time to meet people or settle down and become a mom, so what? Are you worried that maybe motherhood isn’t for you even if you had the opportunity? It ISN’T for everyone, and that’s SO VERY OK. Are you loving the mom life or balancing a job and parenting and perhaps not soaring ahead in the professional realm? No guilt needed. And even if you have the chance to do that someday, if you decide you’re OK with where you’re at, you don’t need to move mountains to prove yourself.
Try to quiet the outside chatter and influence. Everyone has their own opinion on the topic but ultimately, you’re the only one who has to live with the choices you make. And really? No one else cares. Whether they applaud you or criticize you, it will be fleeting in their world. So make sure you are living a life authentic to YOU.