Hello SOTGC community,
This post was inspired by a conversation I had with some fabulous ladies a couple weeks ago. We were talking about careers, being in male dominated industries, pressures that those of us who are single have to “settle down and start a family” and for the one of us who has a family, the pressures of having scaled back from being on the “fast track” so that she could be there for her young children. Of course the Ann Marie Slaughter article was brought up and I talked about a post I wrote with my response to it. My new friend Keely said: “I wish more people could understand that the ideal personal life and career isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ shoe.”
This immediately gave me the idea for this post. The concept of “having it all” means something different for everyone based on their own individual circumstances at that present time in their life. The sooner we get rid of trying to uphold the “having it all” definition as: being an involved wife/mother while having an extremely affluent and fast paced career AND looking like Cindy Crawford in conjunction with being the perfect “Susie Homemaker”…the happier we all will be…and probably less stressed. Yeah I know, “rant called and wants their soap box back.”
I constantly hear stories of women who were “on the fast track” in whatever industry they were in, and took a breather from the quick ramp up so that they could be a more involved and present parent. Or I hear stories of women who were dead set on a specific course that meant 15 hour days, 6-7 days a week, and decided to start their own businesses or even switch into a different role or company because they no longer attached their version of success to that glorified title they were working towards. Then I see examples of women who scaled back a little from the steep upward trajectory of their career during the crucial years of their childrens’ lives, and then got right back on track and quickly moved up into an executive management role. I applaud every one of these ladies for the courage they took in doing what they believed in, what their families, or personal needs were, and for defining what success (at that specific time) looked like, and not budging from it.
We all know the story of Cinderella and Prince Charming’s search for the ONE WOMAN who would fit into the glass slipper, that symbolized his “happily every after.” If you get anything from this post, it’s that your career, your version of success, what “having it all” means to you, is NOT a glass slipper. The definition is not some idealized version of the impossible. Instead, it’s what you make of it. It’s what gives you personal satisfaction at the end of the day. And I challenge ALL of you, men and women, to applaud the next person you meet who took a step back or changed roles because it was what they needed to do at that time. We need more courageous individuals who are self-aware enough to do what’s best for them, and not try to jam their foot into that impossibly small and delicate glass slipper.