The Pursuit of Beyoncéness

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So the entire premise of my blog is to remind myself and encourage others that we can have everything we want in life. And I do, always have, and always will believe that. But recently, a coworker shared a Glamour magazine article with me that distinguished the difference between having it all versus doing it all.  The writer of this article declares that, “because we [women] can do anything, we feel as if we have to do everything.”

In the article, she goes on to reassure us that while women can have it all, it will eventually take some compromise and sacrifice in other areas. She reminds us that every woman at the top makes trade-offs and that we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves when we realize that we aren’t Wonder Woman – because Wonder Woman isn’t real.

The writer? Debora L. Spar, president of Barnard College in New York, New York.

For someone like me, with a degree in Higher Education Administration & Student Affairs, becoming the president of a college/university is the highest position to achieve in our field. And while I don’t think I want that level of responsibility, I look up to women in those roles and was quite interested in what her article would say.

“Women have to not just get a job and keep it, but rise through the ranks—while maintaining a partner and children, staying awake for sex, and looking like Beyoncé.”

How true is that?! Women really are expected to do everything and to do it well, without ever disappointing anyone. Honestly, I have every hope for having a husband and children some day but with my 20-something birthday approaching, I’m starting to wonder how on earth I’ll be able to cross everything off of my “Fabulous Life To-Do List”. I’ve found myself thinking a lot about how I would be able to start a doctoral program but still give enough time to my relationship, family & friends, and SELF. So I let myself daydream about it just to see where my thoughts would wander. A husband, 3 children, a full-time upper-level position at a major university, a groundbreaking dissertation, girls’ nights with my best friends, regular visits to see my mom, sister, brother, 1 niece & 4 nephews, and a banging size 6 frame… NO WAY! The mere thought of doing all of that makes my head hurt. I immediately felt as if I would have to choose, but I was okay with that. I know that I want all of those things and I know that in due time I will have all of them, but I also know that “due time” doesn’t have to mean chasing them at the SAME time.

I have, in no way, given up but my health and happiness takes precedence in any thing that I do and I believe that prioritizing is just as important as holding steadfast to my dreams. It’s not a matter of choosing between a Ph.D. and having a family; it’s simply deciding when I want to pursue each.

Spar’s article concludes with some strategies for facing the ridiculously high standards placed on women, here are just a few of her suggestions:

  1. “Learn from the guys. Men know there’s only so much they can do at once. If the budget report’s due, the lawn goes unmowed. Women try to keep everything going, all the plates spinning. It’s OK to set down a plate. Just choose which one.
  2. Banish guilt from your social life. You don’t have to accept every invitation. Before you RSVP, ask yourself: (1) Is it required for work? (2) Will it help you professionally or intellectually? (3) Will you enjoy it? If the answer to all three is no, don’t go.
  3. Pick a job you love. If your career is satisfying, you’re more likely to stick with it after having kids. Women flee consulting and banking in droves; female doctors, though, tend to stay put, perhaps because no one enters medical school on a whim.”

Moral of the story:

  1. You’re not Beyoncé. You can’t bring your baby to work everyday or pay to have a dream team of assistants.  Plus, there’s no telling what she has to sacrifice to have that life, but I’m sure it isn’t easy. She is fabulous beyond words and provides great encouragement but your life isn’t her life nor is it anyone else’s. Your life is perfect just the way it is.
  2. You can be a complete sucsass in life, but don’t pursue it at the expense of your sanity. Pursue what you want because it’s truly important to you, not because you feel obligated to. Greatness takes time and you cannot rush destiny.
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