I don’t usually get attached to news readers. In fact I’m often guilty of having a chuckle at their expense. I find it a little funny when they turn to their co-host (pearly whites gleaming) and their beautifully blow-dried locks remain anchored in place. I especially love it when the vision and the teleprompter get mixed up. We hear the serious tone detailing the Rudd/Gillard leadership challenge but we see the rough play of cute and cuddle pandas at Melbourne Zoo… it could work I guess?
But this week when Georgie Gardener announced her departure from the Today Show, citing family reasons and the presence of a ‘Grumpy Mummy’, I was kind of taken back. “Wow, she actually admitted it,” I thought.
When someone like Georgie bravely comes out and admits she can no longer balance what many of us might see as a she-has-it-all kinda life, my mind begged the question: can we actually have it all? Is Georgie’s decision just the bare truth staring us in the face that we can’t? Or is it that we can but the ‘all’ part is just a stage we reach, possible only for a point in time, ending when one of the plates we’re balancing just gets too heavy?
I needed answers. I needed to research. I needed to Google.
My girlfriends will laugh at this who know I can’t help but research the hell outta something until I get the answer. And this question I couldn’t let go.
My ‘having it all’ search brought back:
- ‘Why Women Can’t Have It All’ (Glamour.com)
- ‘The Secret To Having it All’ (Forbes.com)
- ‘When Women Have It All’ (Telegraph.co.uk ); and my personal favourite
- ‘Women, Quite Bitching, You Just Can’t Have It All By 30’ (Telegraph.co.uk )
And then I stumbled on this over on Levo.com:
And after tut-tutting my initial ‘Great. Celebrities giving life advice,’ response I read it. And I wasn’t completely bummed. Despite sitting on different fences of the question these 10 very successful, wealthy and very different women had a theme to their comments: choices and happiness. ‘Yeees,’ I thought. There’s good stuff here but I needed more.
Then, going back to Georgie, I found a great article from iVillage editor, Holly Wainwright, talking about the effect Georgie’s admission had on her. I couldn’t help but connect with Holly’s comments.
Yes, at times (in my weakest and most self-indulgent moments), I do think:
- that I am working towards a point in time when I’ll have the perfect work/life/family/me-time balance;
- that other women have already achieved that balance and therefore it does exist and it can be done; and
- that other women who have this balance are doing it perfectly. Ergo, they have it all.
But as Holly rightly points out, Georgie called us both out on this.
“Maybe what we can’t have is the ridiculous expectation that there are people out there who are ‘Having it all’ and doing it perfectly. Because they’re not. You’re not. I’m not.”
And here it is, our old friend, Comparison. Whether you’re juggling a high profile career and kids, building a business, studying or simply working towards your greater good I think many of us struggle to let go of two things: comparison and the assumption that others are doing it bigger and better than us. I think we can all recall at least one person we’ve placed in the ‘she has it all’ category. I’m guilty of this. And when I do there’s usually a little bit of admiration, a good dose of how-does-she-do-it? and a slight sprinkle of jealously dumped together in a bowl of this bad-as-all-hell-for-you recipe.
Where is ‘She’ for you? Maybe on your newsfeed, all wrapped up in pretty Instagram filters, ‘lovemylife’ hashtags and seemingly perfect images. ‘She’ could be that Mum at school drop-off that drives the fancy car with the fancy-looking husband, the oh-so obedient children living in the oh-so-lovely house. Or ‘She’ might even be your best friend. And because she’s real, and doing it all the way you’d like to you just can’t help but think she’s so much more sorted than you.
Let’s step awaaaay from the life, body, work, business and little-green-monster comparisons. They’re addictive (I see you there, Instagram stalking), they trash your self-confidence and feed more fear and doubt about yourself into your mind than you’re consciously aware. We’re setting ourselves up for failure because it’s impossible to ‘have it all’ if we’re comparing ourselves to others. We’ll never be done.
So my wee little verdict? ‘Having it all’ seems whack. I find most who are asked about it talk about the struggle and the hardship of trying to do it. The articles written about it are a combination of yes, no, maybe, sometimes or it depends. The concept sits on shaky ground. So let’s try this:
Let go of ‘have it all’ and grab on to ‘have me happy’.
Sounds simple, and yes a little ‘Really, is that it?’, but this we can do. As a worry-wart kid I was often distracted by things, other people or anything that wasn’t in sync with what I was doing at the time. ‘You just worry about what you’re doing,’ were my parents’ words and should have been recorded on a mixed tape for how often they had to repeat it. But it’s true. If we’re focused on what we’re doing to make ourselves happy, there’s little time or energy wasted on how we’re comparing to others.
Now, the getting happy part. I get this ain’t always easy, believe me. But in each moment I do know it’s possible to get a little closer to it. Right now, what’s gonna make you happy? What do you really need to do? What’s your mind and body craving? A nourishing meal? Good conversation? Sleep? To say sorry? Inspiration? Maybe even a little help or direction. Step towards it, in anyway you know how. Let go of what others are doing. Just ‘do’ for you, just for now.
It was getting my eyes of other people’s progress and focusing on my own that lead me to practice these baby steps back to happiness. The more I focused on what made me happy, in the moment, the less I felt pressured and frustrated. I felt more energy and had better ability to suss out what was good for me and what was good for the me I thought I should be. It helped break down what to me looked like a marathon into a series of short and delightful strolls. And for this lesson I’m forever grateful.
So take a stroll, right outta ‘have’ and back into ‘happy’.