Photo by Elijah Henderson
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about women in my own 37 years, it’s that we feel immense pressure to be more than we can actually be.
I’m not suggesting that we’re not capable and intelligent and able to do great things; I’m suggesting that we are actual human beings with a limited amount of time, energy, and mental capacity, and it’s time we stop feeling shame for having these limitations.
It’s who we are, and it’s how we were created to be. Like it or not, it’s the truth. We cannot do it all. And those are the five words we all need to keep telling ourselves:
“I cannot do it all.”
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The Myth of the Superwoman
Somehow our culture has created and perpetuated the myth of the superwoman, a woman who magically accomplishes everything she ever dreamed of and who stays in a great mood while doing it.
She doesn’t exist.
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The world around us expects us to be:
- intelligent but not threatening or dominating
- amazing housekeepers
- knowledgeable but not over-opinionated
- gourmet chefs who only use organic, home-grown produce
And it expects us to have:
- flawless skin, accentuated by perfect makeup
- flat stomachs, even after kids
- the wardrobe of a fashionista
- a side business in addition to our regular jobs and roles as wives/mothers
- pantries organized with glass jars and chalkboard labels
It’s exhausting, isn’t it, thinking about the expectations – even the unspoken ones – we face every single day? I think the unspoken expectations might be the hardest. Those are the ones we allow to fester in the dark places of our minds, silently and secretly wondering if we really should be doing more and really should be capable of adding just that one more thing to our list. The unspoken expectations are the ones we convince ourselves everyone else has a handle on because we never hear them addressing how unrealistic they are.
Letting Go of Unrealistic Expectations
So let me address them now — those expectations are unrealistic! And you have no obligations to meet them.
You are not superhuman. You are not superwoman. And you don’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations for what you should be doing or how you should be doing it.
Look at your life and take inventory.
What must be done? Do it. What brings you joy? Do it. What do you do merely out of obligation? Stop doing it.
“Reality check: who cares if your pantry is disorganized if it means you’re fulfilling your true purpose?”
I wrote in my book Buried that you were neither made nor meant to do it all, and I believe that with every bit of who I am. God created each of us to play a specific role in His Kingdom, and that role is where we should be pouring all of our effort. Reality check: who cares if your pantry is disorganized if it means you’re fulfilling your true purpose?
It’s time we give ourselves permission to relax about the things that don’t matter, ignore the things that aren’t ours to manage, and resist the pressure to be what we’re not.
There’s freedom in saying no, and there’s value in scaling back. It’s OK to take a deep breath. It’s OK to have a night off. And it’s good sometimes to do less.
Let yourself believe it.
Article supplied with thanks to Jennie Scott, a blogger who is married with two children, and shares lessons from her own unexpected journeys, as well as encouragement you might need for yours.