Ask Andie: How can one woman possibly do it all?

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Last Week’s Question:

We were asked if it was possible to remain friends with someone you’ve fallen for, and I advised letting the friendship cool down. Here’s what some of our Twitter followers had to say:

@AnimaMagna: If your feelings for her are real, let her know! Even if you’re rejected you still gave it your all- you’ve got nothing to lose;)

@EthanUnk: Men say no; women say yes. In order to avoid confusion, I say no. In any case, communication & clear expectations are necessary.

This Week’s Question:

Hey Andie,

Living in Provo can be tough for women. We’re expected to be everything all at once: social, pretty, domestic, fun and smart. That can be too much for anyone to handle. And trying to plan for the future is like trying to ride two horses at once. We’re expected to plan for families and raising children, but then at the same time we need to plan for a future of singledom. And then when that expected marriage and family don’t happen, we have to face the judgments of everyone in this weird culture. I know some people think being single after graduation is daunting. What do you think?
Thanks,
Not adept at horseback riding
Dear Not Adept,
I think that nobody should care what anyone else thinks. Your life is your business. The culture of Utah Valley demands perfection, and it’s a ridiculous standard that nobody can meet.Having a family is a worthwhile goal, and if the chance to get married and have children arises it shouldn’t be pushed aside. However, you’re right in pointing out that it doesn’t happen for everybody. That’s perfectly fine too. Not getting married, or even not having the ideal suburban family, doesn’t signify failure. I think the majority of people in this culture assume that there is only one type of woman, and it simply isn’t true. Just like we accept differences in upbringing, religion and race, we need to accept differences in circumstance and personality.The pressures facing you, and many other women, can be eased when you stop focusing on who you ought to be and start focusing on who you are. I think that women, and men as well, spend a lot of time trying to develop qualities a future spouse will find attractive or that their neighbors will admire.They should instead be spending time on the qualities they want to possess. True happiness doesn’t come from trying to rise to someone else’s standard. You know yourself. You know your capabilities and what you want to do with your life, and don’t let anybody tell you that your goals are unimportant.When it comes down to it, you only have to prepare for one life: your life. Some women worry that they don’t have the natural mothering instinct and feel they have to spend their entire single life learning how to be a homemaker. I don’t want to generalize and say that it all just clicks as soon as you become a mom, because motherhood is often difficult and stressful. There are, however, thousands of books and family life scientists and older relatives to give you advice and assistance, and like with any job, the skills come with experience.I don’t know where this idea came from that women need to “do it all.” We all have strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes women think that if they can’t play the piano, bake Pinterest-worthy cupcakes, sew their own skirts, write a killer blog post or play basketball, they’re failing at womanhood. Here’s a secret: you can’t fail at womanhood. Womanhood is not what you can do, it’s who you are. You don’t need to ride two horses; just do the things that make you happy and that you feel make you a better person.And can we all stop judging each other? Is that too much to ask? Some women want careers — what’s wrong with that? They might need to work. Even for stay-at-home moms, when kids grow up, can’t they contribute something else to society, if only to prevent boredom? Some women only want families — that’s fantastic too. Be the best mom you can be, but don’t look down on other women for not having an identical life. Some women never get married, and it’s a painful and sensitive topic. They are still just as valuable and just as incredible as a woman with 10 children.Don’t worry about being single after graduation. Your life doesn’t end at 22 or 23, or even at 30. Instead of trying to be perfect, learn how to love yourself and recognize your capabilities. There is so much to do and see in this big, beautiful world, and there simply isn’t time to do all the things that you feel you have to. Do what you want, and be happy.

Readers, do you feel like the expectations placed on women at BYU and in Utah Valley in general are difficult to live up to? Do women really need to need make “two plans” when thinking about the future? How can we as a society relieve some of the pressure?

Comment below, email or tweet @askandie7.

 

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