I first published this in 2009. Nothing's changed yet.
I heard something very interesting on the radio this morning as I was driving to work. The morning show host had read a study recently that found women today are overall more unhappy than women of past generations. The host was surprised, because (more or less) "with the whole feminist movement and more options we have, how can we be unhappier? It must be divorce."
I am not surprised at the study, actually. And no, I don't agree with divorce being the cause. True, the divorce rate is higher now than in past generations, but how many women then were hopelessly stuck in unhappy marriages? There isn't a stigma attached to being a divorced woman any more. So no, I don't think that is the reason.
I love that the feminist movement has given women so many options for what to do with our lives! We can have successful careers, go to any college we want, raise a family (or not, it's our choice), and do basically whatever we choose! Heck, a woman could even be president and a few generations ago we weren't even allowed to vote.
But - I think this is the root of our unhappiness. Instead of feeling like we have a choice, too many women feel pressured to "do it all" and do it all perfectly. We must go to college, get regular promotions at work, marry, have children, raise those children to be perfect, maintain a spotless home, cook nutritious, organic meals, and look good doing it. We feel this pressure from television, magazines, our families, and ourselves. Out of these, I don't think our families are malicious with the pressure, but want "what is best" for us. But who knows what is best for us more than ourselves? Unfortunately, if other women are like me, we are our biggest critics. The outside influences, on the other hand, don't care about us as individuals and press their own agenda: Buy our product! You MUST breastfeed or you are a bad mother! You MUST NEVER make mistakes in raising your children or you are a bad mother! You MUST be skinny and have your hair done in salons! Do it OUR way! Your way isn't good enough!
We need to stop listening to all the critics! Including our own inner critics. We are human, not superhuman. One woman cannot possibly do it all and do it all perfectly. Something has to give! If we keep trying, it is our health and our own happiness that gets lost in the shuffle. So stop, take a step back, and relax. And breathe.
My new mantra? I am good enough, just the way I am.