Roles We Play As Women (and how to avoid Superwoman Syndrome)
"It was only when I stopped trying to prove that I could 'do it all' that things finally came into place."
When I decided to start working for myself designing jewelry, I had a vision of the type of woman who would wear my pieces. She was strong, she was independent, she wore a lot of hats, played a lot of roles and understood the importance of taking care of herself; she is who I strive to be: a layered woman.
As women, we have a lot of roles; we are mothers, business people, artists, community leaders, friends, mentors, teachers, volunteers and sometimes much more. Because of these many roles, we often don’t take the time to take care of ourselves. Sound familiar? If it does, you may be suffering from something called Superwoman Syndrome - the need to do it ALL and do it PERFECTLY!
I saw a photo the other day of a female Senator walking out on the Senate floor with a newborn baby in hand. My first thought - SHE ROCKS! Look at her do it all! I instantly began to celebrate her ability to “do it all” but then I also started to question my own ability to do it all - yuck, right?! I hate that feeling. Comparison - we don’t need it. And after some thought, I began to realize that yes - I commend this Senator’s ability to juggle a career and motherhood - but, I can also see that this image glorifies the idea of being superhuman - a Superwoman. The truth is, we can’t do it all and we definitely can’t do it all alone.
When I got sick, I didn’t even know I was stressed. I actually thought I was living a life I was meant to, being a new mom, teaching full time, putting in several hours of extra-curricualrs weekly and holding a second job over the summers when my teaching responsibilities were on hold. I was burnt out before I had even started to live.
It was only when I stopped trying to prove that I could “do it all” that things finally came into place. I still play a lot of roles; I think as women we always will. But these are just some of the lessons I learned over the years as I have focused less on “doing it all” and more on living:
Lessons I Learned...
1. IT’S OK TO SAY NO!
In fact, I encourage it. As women, I think we are natural people- pleasers, and often we say yes to something out of fear of not being liked. We have to make sure we are saying yes to things that make us happy - yes to experiences and choices that align with our passions, goals and overall wellbeing.
2. Accept that you can’t do it all.
Easier said than done, I know! I think it’s important to recognize what sets your soul on fire and delegate or let go of the rest. I know I absolutely hate spending an entire Sunday cleaning our house - it takes away my time with my family or time just being and relaxing. So, we made the financial decision to hire someone to help us with this responsibility. In turn, we have a clean and functional environment (most days! Haha!). And, yes, it costs money, but our time, to me, is much more valuable.
3. Create a line between “doing” and “being”.
Sometimes we just need to “be” - to have quiet, to take a walk, to be in nature, to do yoga, to meditate - whatever it is that allows you to just be and be happy without expectations from yourself or others. The hardest part here: taking the time and committing to this one. Write it down in your planner if you have to. Monday: To Do……..spend 30 minutes sitting…..quietly……=)
4. Ask for help.
This can be the hardest thing for us as women, yet the most important thing we could utilize. Asking for the help of your spouse, your children, family, neighbors and friends can create more space and energy to give back once your needs are accomplished. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak or any less strong or independent. But it does make us human and helps us to be there fully, to be present.
5. Accept what you’re terrible at.
When we can just accept what we aren’t good at, we take the pressure off. It sort of gives us a hall pass: Well, I’m just not good at that. When we can accept this mindset, we avoid the pressure of creating unrealistic expectations. For example, I have thousands….and thousands…. of undeleted emails. My close friends love to poke fun at me for this! Even a glance at my phone can cause others some serious stress! But I have learned to let go of that. I’m just not good at that. And that’s ok. The emails do keep piling up, but my anxiety over it does not. Let it go. Accept it. We can’t be good at everything.
Today, and everyday I cherish the incredible accomplishments that women are capable of. But I also know the stress that we put on ourselves; it can be unbearable. I invite you to go after those goals, but to do so not being afraid to say no. I invite you to slow down, to breathe, to take care of yourself, so you can take care of others, and to ask for help along the way.
With gratitude each and every day,
Photo Credit: Sonya Kammes Photography