There are so many different versions of you, none superior to the rest.
You are the elementary teacher trying to juggle grad school, a family, and work.
You are the stay-at-home mom trying to get the semi-healthy meal on the table while helping with homework, tackling the growing pile of laundry, and finding time to just be you.
You are the single 20something trying to climb to corporate ladder, pay off student loans, and balance your version of happiness.
You are the traveler, trying to make the most out of every moment of life while staying in touch with those who matter most.
Married or single, looking for love or looking to stay away from it.
Twenty, Thirty, Fifty, or Eighty.
Huge family or no kids in your future.
Entrepreneur or jobless, climbing the career ladder or trying to just cling to the rung you’re on.
Whoever you are, whatever life you’re leaving, there’s one thing you all have in common
You’re struggling to do it all, to balance it all, and to keep your head above water.
You’re exhausted, you’re feeling overwhelmed, and you’re feeling like you don’t know how you can keep going. You feel like you’re failing because no matter what you’re juggling in your life, it feels impossible to keep up with it all.
I’ve seen so many female acquaintances, close friends, and even strangers battling the incessant cycle of trying to be perfect while trying to do too much. As women in 2016, we face so much pressure, no matter what our circumstances are. We are told we are strong and capable. We are told we can have it all―we can have any combination of relationships, careers, families, hobbies, and values we want to pursue.
But few people stop to recognize that having it all sometimes equates to a seemingly impossible race toward a constantly moving finish line.
Doing it all, having it all―it’s hard work, no matter what your life looks like.
We are all trying to balance an ever-changing equation of families, jobs, friendships, love, happiness, and health. There are always to-do lists that seem to grow exponentially every single day.
On top of that, there’s the fear of failure.
Couple all of that with pressure from society to “keep smiling” because modern women should be nothing but strong and capable, and many of us are just waiting to crack.
I’ve seen friends in tears over perceived failures at balancing family and work. I’ve seen so many women panicking because their house isn’t perfectly clean or because they put a frozen pizza on the table for dinner. I’ve seen women struggling with feeling like inadequate employees, wives, mothers, or friends. So many of us are holding ourselves to these impossible standards. We worry so much about being everything for everyone else that we lose sight of our own needs.
We not only want to do it all―we want to do it all to a level of perfection. This level of perfection, though, often leads to feelings of inadequacy when we realize we can’t achieve it simultaneously in every aspect of life.
I am happy to be living in 2016 where women can do it all, where we have the choice to pursue families and careers if we want to.
Still, I sometimes worry that we’re holding ourselves to impossible standards and setting ourselves up to feel like failures.
So to the women trying to do it all, I say: Cut yourself some slack.
It doesn’t matter if there’s a coffee stain on your shirt or if the dishes are piled to the ceiling. It’s fine if your husband’s khakis aren’t perfectly pressed or if your eyeliner isn’t just quite right. It’s okay if family game night ended up in tears and a tossed Monopoly board or if sometimes dinner comes in a paper sack from a fast food restaurant. It’s fine if the sweeper hasn’t been run since last week or if it took a few days for you to get to that paper on your desk at work.
You’re not perfect, but you don’t have to be... because none of us are.
Don’t let the pressure of doing it all, of being everything for everyone, cut off your chance at being happy. Don’t let doing it all suck the joy out of every aspect of your life. Instead, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to step back and re-evaluate what really matters most, even if society doesn’t agree with your opinion.
Most of all, don’t be afraid to say “screw perfection.” Take comfort in the fact that everyone who is trying to do it all struggles sometimes. Just keep doing your best and focusing on the things that matter most to you, no matter what that looks like.
Lindsay Detwiler is a high school English teacher and a contemporary romance author. Visit her on Facebook to learn more.