There has been a lot of discussion in the media over the last year or so (especially with the release of Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, which I confess I have not yet read) about whether women (or men for that matter) can really “have it all.” I have thought a lot about this over the years as I struggle to balance a career, my personal life and my personal aspirations.
After a lot of pondering and consideration, I think we need to stop focus on trying to have it all and focus on trying to have what we want. This may seem like a simplification of a complex matter, and that is because it is. However, from personal experience, and that is all I can speak to, I became a lot happier with my life when I let go of the pressure to “have it all” and just focused on what I wanted.
It comes to priorities, and each of us has different priorities. We shouldn’t judge each other for making choices to prioritize those things that are important to us. For me, letting go of the pressure to have children was a huge weight off my psyche. Giving myself permission to be honest and emphatically state that I don’t want kids allowed me to focus on what I do want. I want a satisfying relationship, some adorable fuzzy corgis, a career that is challenging and fulfilling and passionate creative pursuits. Happily, I can make time for those things because I have identified those priorities.
If I ever do change my priorities, then I can adjust course at that point. I think our goals in enjoying the one life we have on this planet and identifying our priorities and what makes us passionate and excited and make time for that in our lives, even if that means leaving out other pursuits. So, my goal is not to “have it all” but to have what’s important to me and to understand that what I want and what I need isn’t what everyone wants and needs, and it is OK to not want what everyone else wants. And finally, you should respect others enough to left them pursue what they want and need even if it isn’t what you want.
About the Photograph: Taken at the Kona Village Resort Luau on the Big Island of Hawaiian in August, 2009.