A while back, I was at a conference. Another attendee was being lauded as having achieved so much in her business in the past year or so and at first, I was among the women cheering her on. Then, a statement was made and I stopped clapping. “She is so amazing. She has little kids at home so she spends the whole day taking care of them and has to wait for them to go to bed before she can work on her business. So when most of us are winding down for the day, that’s when she is starting her 8 hour work day. She works into the wee hours of the night, even on the weekends and her hard work is paying off.” Clapping and cheers for her. I looked around wondering, am I the only one in this room who thought, “oh you poor thing” when I heard this?
The Superwoman Syndrome – are we putting unnecessary pressure on each other?
Let me clarify something. If she is truly happy and excited, if she is energetic and thriving (not referring to her business or finances here – I mean in a truly personal, emotional, spiritual, and physical way), then I am indeed happy for her. But still, the statements about her work schedule gave me pause. What message is applauding something like this sending to other women? Not that she shouldn’t be celebrated – of course she should! But it seemed over and over again to be the message of the day and it began to worry me.
You, you over there! You aren’t doing enough. If you want to be seen as an “amazing woman”, then you must be cutting yourself short on sleep, you must be neglecting to take “me time”, and you must be running yourself ragged to do so. I know, I don’t know this particular woman’s story. I haven’t seen into her life but the pressure this might be putting on other women scares me. That kind of schedule takes its toll and if there’s any bit of wisdom I’ve gathered over the years, it’s that we need to think about what is truly most important in life every single day.
Is it more important to make lots of money or to be healthy and happy?
I almost wanted to stand up and say, yes she is amazing and she’s done a great job on her business but you over there, the one feeling inadequate because some nights it’s a major accomplishment just to get dinner on the table, you are fantastic too.
You, the mom who works so hard all day long to keep up with your kids that by the time they are successfully in bed, you are so exhausted that it’s all you can do to just keep your eyes open, you are enough. You are amazing. You are successful.
Maybe it’s because I was older than most of the women in the room. Maybe it’s because I was in a life-changing, priority shifting car accident. Maybe it’s because I’ve lost way too many people way too soon in my life. Whatever the reasons, from where I sit in life, I wondered when our jobs (and in many ways, how much money we are bringing in from them) became the most important measurement of how successful we are in life.
When I look at other women, I don’t see success based on how much money they make. To me, successful women are ones who are happy. They are the ones who take care of themselves. They are the ones who are pursuing their dreams. They are the ones embracing what really matters the most in their lives.
What do you think it means to be successful?