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?
Erin Sipes says
As a mom who tries to work into the wee hours of the night, because it is my free time, this really resonated with me. Often I feel like I’m on a seesaw, sometimes I’ll watch an inspirational video about ‘the hustle’ and how I should be using the hours between 10pm-2am if I REALLY want to get ahead, and then other times I’ve looked at the work created during those late nights and thought, “Why did I write that? I can do better than this!” It is such a struggle, thanks for sharing!
P.S. I love the new blog look!
Cyn Gagen says
Thanks for sharing your insight! I get that moms do often need to work late hours – I just wish there were ways we could all support each other better. And thanks – it was time for a blog makeover 🙂
Laura / Pet Scribbles says
Cyn, This is one of the BEST blog posts I’ve read on this topic. You nailed it! I totally agree with every single word you wrote, especially getting that cringing feeling when hearing someone’s success is based on sleepless nights and crazy schedules and probably a few private freak-out sessions along the way. I know that I was more of a workaholic in my younger days, and it can feel empowering. But I also know — being older and hopefully wiser from experience LOL — that NOW I’m working and living in a MUCH more balanced way, which has translated to me being MUCH happier! 🙂
Cyn Gagen says
Thank you so much! Yes I do think as you get older, success becomes defined much differently. I just wish there were a way to help other women learn it a little earlier.