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Reflections May 2018

I’ll Never Want to Do Have it All

By Anne Ashley

If I was a member of this modern workforce, I’d probably end up at some halfway house, working on my 12 steps to achieving happiness through interpretive yodeling, just to get a break from all the accomplishing! 

Having recently spent time in the company of today’s young female workforce, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t want to go back (way, way back) in time and change how things were for me when I was just starting out on my path to adulthood.

As a child, I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. As an adult, I still didn't know what I wanted to be.

I wasn’t driven to have a glamorous, high-flying career or to be a part of a global corporation. I didn’t dream of owning my own business or have aspirations of setting the world on fire with my shoulder pads and high heels. I didn’t have an ambition to become something or someone celebrated for becoming ... something.

Now, I did have a job after high school – my father saw to that. As soon as the five of us were old enough to grasp the concept of who was in charge, he made it very clear that he would neither bail any of us out of jail (for any reason) or pay for us to go to college. He believed that if we wanted either badly enough, we’d find our own way to get there (out of jail or through college).

So, I did work hard at whatever I was hired to do (I think my first of many mundane jobs was at a fast-food restaurant) but you could never call what I did a position. There’s little room for promotion if your remit is to ask, “Would you like fries with that?” 

However, during my limited time of employ, I cannot recall one incident where I was stressed or harassed by my colleagues, boss or customers.  I'm pretty sure the most difficult challenge I faced was how to fit socializing into my schedule without getting fired.

I also don’t recall having to compete for positions or promotions. As soon as I was able to hang up whatever uniform and name tag I wore, I did so and happily became a stay-at-home mom. I've never regretted not pursuing a less challenging career than motherhood. I seriously believe I took the harder road by tending to family, home and multiple scheduling conflicts. I've always thought that I’d have had it much easier had I opted for the corporate path.  

Fast-forwarding to current occupations and I do recognize that today’s young ladies have it much, much tougher than I ever would have.

Nowadays a woman is expected to not only want it all but achieve it all by juggling children (multiple), husbands (multiple?), corporate positions and demanding careers and possibly throwing a self-improvement class into the mix.

Men don’t have to struggle to fit home life, kids and therapy group sessions into a hectic week. They inevitably have it all without having to achieve it all. No one ever marvels at how a man is able to raise his children and run a global business. You never hear of self-esteem courses for men who want to reach their full potential. Unless you count Monday Night football. 

Anyway, when I contemplate past generations of women and the failure I would have been had I been born to an earlier era where women were expected to be dependent, weak,
passive and humbly attentive to their menfolk, I’m grateful that I was born in an age where I was able to choose my own path and my own temperament.

I'm equally aware that I would have been just as big a failure in this modern era of woman having to be all things to all people, at all times. Least of all because in both scenarios I would have been the exception to the norm. I would never be able to cower to my husband – especially if I'm also responsible for running his undergarments through the mangle each week! And if I was a member of this modern workforce, I’d probably end up at some halfway house, working on my 12 steps to achieving happiness through interpretive yodeling, just to get a break from all the accomplishing! 

No, I’m satisfied with my path. Not only did I get to be what I wanted to be, I got time off whenever it got too tough – also known as Zumba classes.   

 

Be sure to follow me on twitter@anneashley57.

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