As a child, I was raised to believe that I could have whatever I wanted and I could be whatever I wanted to be if I worked hard enough for it.
My parents encouraged me to study hard and to work hard so that I could have the ability to fulfil my dreams of achieving a life that I desired. Of course, this is the ideal & perfect way to raise a child.
Instil a passionate work ethic and ensure a child sees a value on everything. Rewards didn’t come easy in our house, and there certainly weren’t any treats (it was the 1980’s)! Nor was there a naughty step or bold corner but that’s for another day!
All of my closest friends were brought up with the same ethic & therefore inherently have the same life goals & rules.
I have to start by saying – I am truly grateful for the life that I have but God, have I worked hard for it and made sacrifices along the way.
But something that I am tired of hearing and a statement that someone needs to shed some true honest light on, is the one of “you can have it all”. You primarily see this throwaway statement on the likes of big marketing campaigns for female beauty products. For example, a hairspray product with a 30-something female strutting in 6 inch heels and a sharply cut suit, with a big bouncy blowdry, telling us that we can have it all and we’re worth it. The thing about advertising campaigns is that we start to believe them. After all, that is their aim. But when we find ourselves falling short of “having it all”, we begin to feel like we have somehow failed. The irony of the lucrative advert campaigns including the likes of Cheryl Cole, is that in the advert, she “has in all”, but we all know, her reality is very different.
My role model is, and always will be, my Mum. To me, she epitomises, strong women. I often ask her – how did she do it all?
We never wanted for anything growing up. Through blood, sweat & tears, she ensured that we had a very happy & fulfilling childhood. But recently, she told me that things were so much more different and so much more simpler when she was raising a family. In some ways, she put her own life on hold to be a wife, home maker & mother and only when I, the youngest & only girl I might add (yes, it’s obvious that I’m the baby & precious girl) turned 16, did she get her life back. And she did so by going back to college to study to be a hair dresser! A life long passion that she wanted to fulfil.
But what about women now? Can we have it all?
What I do know about life is that we are all busy and all suffering from some level of stress. Life most certainly is far from simple and I find myself asking myself – What are we doing it for? Is this as good as it gets?
We are expected to be – high achieving business women, dedicated girlfriends/wives, loving mothers, active gym-goers, weekend party animals, supportive friends, charity campaigners, culinary & domestic goddesses, supermodels, role models and advocates of the myth that “you can have it all”.
It has taken me to my 30’s to defeatedly but contently admit – no, you quite simply can’t have it all. You can achieve, every single thing on the aforementioned list, but you can’t do each thing to a high standard. And part of my rearing as a child was to do something to a level of 100% or just don’t do it at all! So to me, that tells me that I will choose certain items on the list to fulfil my life, and I will do those well.
Even when I look at my own personal life, ‘Fakebook’ would lead you to believe that I ‘have it all’. Reality is a very different thing.
I, in all honesty, dedicated the last 15 years of my life to my studies and my career. This dedication meant that I didn’t have time for a personal life or much of a social life. An area of my life that I plan on improving this year.
Life is not a dress rehearsal. You don’t get a retake. You have been given a leading role, and it’s up to you how you play it. Make your performance one that is memorable for the right reasons. You’ll never hear someone at a funeral commenting on someone’s commitment to work.
Obviously, we all need to work. But, my point is to prioritise what is important in life. And funnily enough, the important things are those that money can’t buy – like family, friends & health.
It is important to create a balance in life. A work/life balance. I believe that if you have a balance, you begin to fall in love with the stressful things in work that once filled you with resentment because your life is no longer just about work. You have more of a purpose and a written schedule to stick to. When you write down a work/life balance schedule, you have an aim. You’re not simply trudging from one day to the next without enjoying life.
Life is for living, do it now xx.