Throughout my training as a counselor, social worker and now health coach, consistent themes emerge around sensitivity to women’s issues and struggles, conscious and unconscious, and providing a safe space to explore those experiences.
Did you know that at age 7, girls and boys want to be president in equal numbers? That changes drastically by middle school, and even more so by college.
Women experience oppression most acutely in the messages that their physical appearance is tied to their worth. We are aware of this, as it is alive and well in the media today.
However, in our shift to a more egalitarian society (women in the workforce, shared household responsibilities, more leadership opportunities) a new pressure for women has emerged. It struck me in a lecture I was listening to last week…
We are supposed to be superwoman, supermom, and superhuman. And this, too, is oppressive.
Not only should a woman be able to raise well-adjusted, successful children, keep a spotless home, and cook for their families, they should also have a successful career, make homemade organic granola bars for their children, volunteer in the community and be fit and beautiful at all times.
I don’t know about you, but I definitely feel this pressure. And my type A, perfectionist personality thrives on it. I never stopped to think about it as a form of oppression.
But it makes sense! We can quickly feel like we don’t measure up. And for those of us who like to be busy and think we can do it all, we risk sacrificing downtime, burning out, and falling apart when something doesn’t go our way.
And then I wondered if bloggers are fueling this stereotype.
I am a first born, over achiever, and (sometimes) a do-it-all myself supermom-wannabe. It’s in my DNA and unlikely to change!
But I’m human. Not all the meals on my meal plan make it to the table. I miss workouts and oversleep. Some days my daughter gets by on carbs and zero vegetables.
Does it really matter if you don’t cook meals from scratch for your family? Skip a few chores? Aren’t climbing the career ladder?
Shouldn’t we focus on the stuff that matters? Reading stories to your kids. Hugs. Relationships. Encouraging words. Listening to a friend.
I share running tips, recipes, things my daughter and I like to eat, race reports and so on to (hopefully) provide some inspiration and to share our journey. But I know most of us do not have the time to bake and cook every day, or the desire to train for marathons, or have kids who will down a green smoothie.
And I can easily get caught up in the skills I do not have that others have: photography, fashion sense, an artistic eye and so on.
I’m just putting this out there as a reminder that we are all different. Comparisons lead to discontent. Let’s be thankful for who we are and what we have. Let’s read blogs for inspiration, but stop reading if we come away feeling “less than” in any way. And let’s be aware that this “superwoman syndrome” exists!
One of the best ways to combat this syndrome is to build gratitude and contentment. A great exercise is to keep a journal by your bed and every night write down three things from the day that you are thankful for. I’m going to try this for the next month.
Over-achievers like me need to learn to step back and relax. To spend more time in silence, meditation or prayer. To focus on the people around us, not the to-do list.
And we all need to free ourselves from the pressure to be all things to all people.
For related reading, check out my friend Lindsay’s post, When is it Okay to Slow Down?
Have you felt the superwoman or supermom pressure? What is something you have done or can do to release yourself from it?