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The debate over whether women can have it all is never-ending. This post examines whether having or not having it all matters as much!
Can we have it all? Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico, said in her 2014 interview, “Women can’t have it all”.
Nina Lekhi, MD of Baggit, in her memoir, Bag It All says “As I see it, we can have it all – a successful company, a loving family and the opportunity to follow our passion.”
So….which of the above statements is correct ?
The truth is somewhere in between…
Let me elaborate.
Any career woman will agree that life is a balancing act. She doesn’t want to sacrifice home and family life for the sake of her career and also wants to achieve professional success but not at the cost of family. This is what everyone aspires to and it is an ideal situation.
The perceived image of ‘Superwoman’ is the one who is portrayed in the commercial ads – seamlessly traversing between home and office, one who always appears organized and refreshed, inspite of the umpteen tasks she has to handle.
The picture is too bright and rosy. But alas, you and me, if we aspire, to live that imaginary life of that ‘model’ woman (as shown there) even for a day, we know in our hearts, that something will give way.
We can have a number of things planned by the minute and a system set in place to follow through the plans. We run through to-do lists, one task planned after the other, back to back, and endeavour to tick off the list one by one.
But surprises spring up, unexpected events happen and we are back to being our frazzled selves with wrinkled foreheads, too tired to even smile.
When will this drudgery end?
We want our homes to be spic and span, cook healthy food for our family, keep ourselves well groomed, our children to be well behaved and excel not only in studies but also extra-curricular activities and hobbies, we aspire to own big homes and luxurious gadgets, go on family vacations, have a perfect relationship with our spouses, work hard and earn perks and promotions, take care of our health, exercise everyday, have a good status in society….and many more such aspirations. And over and above these, we need lots of time and money to achieve these goals.
The ‘having it all’ seems like a faraway rainbow beyond our grasp. And we know that the transitory feeling of being in control will wear off, similar to the melting dewdrop and the vanishing rainbow. We start questioning where we went wrong.
We should realize, this issue is much bigger and more than an individual problem.
In her book Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has The Time, the author Brigid Schulte, award winning journalist for The Washington Post, writes, “This is how it feels to live my life: scattered, fragmented and exhausting. I am always doing more than one thing…..” and she believes, “The three great arenas of life – work, love, and play – are very interconnected”.
So, how do we achieve the balance and regain sanity?
Find a middle ground between materialism and minimalism. De-clutter and be organized. Rather than acquiring things, aim for pleasant experiences in life.
Prioritise your time for the things you really want to do. Do not miss to schedule some exclusive ‘Me Time’ to get refreshed and recharged.
Whether it is job achievements or diet and fitness goals, entertainment or work, no extremes please. Do not fret if you can’t reach your preset milestones. Don’t aim for perfection. The journey is also as important as the destination.
So things will go wrong if they have to.
You may not get that much coveted promotion at your job even though you worked hard and you deserved it.
Your spouse may not appreciate your efforts in cooking a tasty healthy meal.
Your aged parents or parents-in-law may grumble and find fault though you are doing your best to take care of them.
Your children may not appreciate your efforts to safeguard and nurture them.
First of all, accept that these are not in your control.
True, time will not wait for you. But what if you never stop to smell the roses? You will lose sight of the beautiful moments and never enjoy the path, if you are tense and keen on reaching the destination.
Hence heed to the sage counsel of Gautama Buddha who says, “Happiness is a journey, not a destination.”
Be happy that you get to spend those few moments with your children in the mornings.
Cherish the few minutes of loving conversation with your spouse.
Go that extra mile at times to make the elderly feel loved and secure.
Order out or go to a restaurant once in a while.
Pamper yourself with luxurious beauty indulgence in a spa.
Be at peace with yourself, visualise your dreams and let all the things happen in their natural due course.
Neither ‘having’ nor ‘not having’ it all, is relevant…. BEING is the secret key to that fulfilment which we crave.
Take a deep breath. All you have to do is be in the moment.
That’s possible, right?