Can women have it all?
Anne- Marie Slaughter did an excellent job examining this age old question in her recent article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” for the Atlantic in the recent July/August issue.
Throughout the article I kept coming back to one thought: What is “all”? I think that word means something different for every woman. For me, I am not sure that this has ever included having my own family. Okay, so for about 2.5 years in college that might have been my train of thought but since then I have negated to purchase a ticket for a return trip to the magical land of a husband and children. Instead, I have taken a front aisle seat (the process of deboarding stresses me out) on the plane to educational and career advancement. I dream of degrees and promotions. I drool thinking about giving keynote speeches and facilitating leadership institutes for college students. Very little and I mean very little about having a baby and being married to someone excites me, in fact, it freaks me out! Therefore, my definition of “all” might be slightly different than other women my age (29). Although, maybe I am just fooling myself into believing that I am not into that life because to be completely transparent I don’t have any prospects of that life happening to me in the near future. Perhaps I have been chosen to live a life of blessed singleness..thanks God?!
My “all” upon my move to Nashville included a new job of a higher title with more pay (check), involvement in the community in which I live and work (check), a church home with a supportive church family (check), engagement with physical fitness (check), building a community of friends (check), total immersion in the “extras” of living in Music City (check),and recently exploring opportunities to obtain my Ed.D. (check).
All of my “all” is still in progress and developing, growing,and changing as I begin my second year at Vandy and in Nashville. I have been able to “balance” it all. I am not really a fan of the word “balance” because I don’t think it is real; it is an elusive concept that we spend our lives seeking often in vain. I prioritize and I manage. Nothing that I do ever gets 100% of my attention. Want to know why? Because that, my friends, is IMPOSSIBLE!! To be in a Junior League meeting but not think about a Panhellenic issue is the same as saying “Don’t think about the white elephant!” Get it?
Right now, I am in an environment in which I can have my desired “all” but I know that could certainly change as my desires change and the context in which I find myself changes. I do have a family. My mommy, brother, auntie, Christopher, and Steve. If I had to leave today to be with those lovely crazy people I could and for that I am blessed. I could request that time away and wouldn’t flinch at the ask. I also have a very understanding female boss and I work in the field of Student Affairs–not normally known as the insensitive segment of the academy. However, as I move up ( I know I will) I know my life could drastically change. The pressures Slaughter speaks of could become my own and I will have some decisions to make as no version of “all” could be maintained under the constraints she describes.
From the outsider perspective I might not have it all. I am 29 and single without children , plus I live in an apartment. However, when I look on the career timeline I created for myself years ago I am on the right track. I guess the question becomes should my “all” look different? If so, how? When? If and when it does change how will I manage it all or will I even be able to?