“Even if your dream seems unattainable, you can achieve it if you stay focused, driven, and diligent.” – Rebecca Minkoff, Fashion Designer
When it comes to being a woman, sometimes it feels like such a burden because of not just societal pressures but family, friends and self that come with their own added issues or expectations. Bear in mind that as a woman you are definitely more than a reproductive factory or a walking sex toy; you are so much more, but do people really know that? Or they just don’t want to acknowledge.
On today’s article on dealing with Dee and her thoughts, we shall be taking a very careful yet colourful dive into the world of women, societal expectations and the age-old question of: can she have it all?
“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live”
– Mae Jemison, Engineer and NASA Astronaut
“When you take risks, you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail and both are equally important.” – Ellen DeGeneres, Comedian and TV Host
Growing up as a young girl, I was blessed to be born into a family that allowed me to grow into the person I wanted to be. Well, there was a bit of constantly trying to tweak me into society’s expectations of me as a girl and soon-to-be woman, but whoosh! was I stubborn? First off, I was never like other girls; I was deathly quiet and afraid of my own shadow. I didn’t need to wait for things to go bump in the night to panic; just the sound of my own breath sounding off in my ears was enough to give my tiny heart a serious attack. Then I was eerily quiet and such an odd ball. I would barely cry when in pain, hide in awkward places (boxes, empty fridge, tiny cupboards, etc.) Cartoons, books, documentaries, power rangers, wrestling, comics and anything with writing on it was my best friend, plus, because of growing up in a home with highly intellectual parents, for some reason anyone who didn’t sound as smart as them was clearly dumb ( I will not lie, I still think like that…sometimes).
My parents raised my siblings and I to be independent, conversational (they tried then; at least, it is working now) and downright simple for a Nigerian kid who was also partially raised by American missionaries (home-wise and school-wise: my parents were friends with Focus on the Family Missionaries in the 90s and sent me to Kent Academy, Jos, simply because they needed to give me all the stable growth any eerie, quiet, awkward child would need).
Part of my personal development was two-fold: the first being I needed to be somewhat acceptable to society, especially as a half and half first born (Yoruba and Benue) sheesh – both sides had big expectations of their first-born – whether you are male or female.
Secondly, I wanted to break free from all of that but still be somewhat accepted for who I am. A lot of women must have, and still are facing these challenges – wanting it all through self-development. I can assure you that it isn’t easy, but then again nothing easy ever felt so sweet as fighting against all odds to be more (hence always saying I need to be more, do more and say more). I was such a tomboy that it caused confusion to my relatives, like how can you be so pretty but so boyish for a girl (sports, sagging, videogames, comics were my teen jam) or the fact that I went from a quiet kid to an aggressively outspoken one that refuses to be silent or conform, and here’s why: from films to books, to the comics I so loved, one thing was always clear: once you had a voice and refused for it to be silenced, the world was yours. And boy, did I want it to be mine?
As a Nigerian woman, there is this unspoken rule about personal development where you are expected to conform to whatever someone else deems fit for you as a woman, because there is this open yet secret belief that a woman’s personal development is never for herself but others, simply because it was somehow taboo for her to want, or have, it all. Let’s just say I was truly blessed with parents who always pushed for me to have a voice as part of my personal development as a Nigerian woman. Was it hard for them? Definitely, but they were proud and are still today instrumental to the growth and development of who I am as a writer, teacher, consultant and speaker.
So in regards to personal development and having it all, I would say yes, it is possible, but it is important to have the right support system that enables that growth and development, especially when it’s not deemed fit for society. Ahh! God bless my parents.
“I think it’s great to be flawed. I am hugely flawed, and I like it this way. That’s the fun of life. You fall, get up, make mistakes, learn from them, be human and be you.”
– Priyanka Chopra, Actress, Singer, and Film Producer
Work, work, work. The term work is becoming very relative because business and entrepreneurship are, or have broken the boundaries of a traditional four-walled space. Sometimes, as a woman it feels like that is all you are doing, be it at home, the office, etc.; you are always expected to work and cater for others. Hey, do not get me wrong; working is so important, especially if you have bills to pay (ahh, if only the bills worked too and sorted out themselves), yet for some reason women at work or in a workplace are expected to be submissive, quiet and never want for more, because why should she have it all right? Wrong, she can have it all, she can be the boss, the bad baddy of corporate society who wants to dominate and have her name resound in the halls of fame. She is allowed to have the raises, and be paid just like her male counterparts. She is allowed to have the same working rights just like any man because she is a woman; the woman who is able to be sympathetic to others, empathic to needs, discerning in nature, observant of behaviours and so much more. It still surprises me that with the way a woman multitasks (literally in her genes) in the corporate world, often times much more than her colleagues, it surprises me that even in today’s world, she is still seen as the weaker sex! Like seriously, how is that possible?
Women have been running households, businesses and more with both eyes closed, one hand tied behind her back while hopping on one leg effortlessly and flawlessly, how is it possible to even think that she cannot have it all? Wow. Let’s be brutally honest: a woman in a work environment (a serious woman oh, not the ones who think sighing and batting her eyelashes is enough) is a formidable and unstoppable force of frightening nature, because when she passes through with grit and determination, not even the brutal knife twisting menstrual cramps or impending labour can keep her down (Ha, I would love to see a man try it while in such pain). So, for me, a woman at work can have it all.
Family and Love: The Balance
“She had spent so much time worrying that accepting love, becoming part of all the love stories, would trap her in some way, change her into someone weak, someone she did not want to be. But she realised now that she had been narrow-minded, considering a love story as a lesser story, a story that might make her lesser to be part of. She had always thought she needed to be in control, but now she found she did not want to put any limits on herself at all.”
― Sarah Rees Brennan, Unmade
When I say God made women extra special, you best believe me. Women have somehow for years been able to do it all even when exhausted, in pain, going through grief, overwhelmed or just not in the mood. Sometimes, I feel a woman’s drive bounces off breaking the chains of womanly expectations placed on our foremothers.
In today’s society, I am constantly in awe of women who work, raise a family, dominate business, get global recognition and do it all while looking extremely fabulous. After asking a couple of women, the most prominent answer to dealing with family and love was finding the right balance mostly in regards to your sanity as well as a partner who values your time, your goals, your dreams and more. A woman’s ability to have it all isn’t limited to life at home or love, but it is fuelled by the right push. She does have the ability to have it all and, rightly, it should be hers. Yet where others may see love and family as a limiting factor, others have grown immensely from it.
“We need to get women to the point where they aren’t apologising. It’s time to take ownership in our success.”
– Tory Burch, Fashion Designer, and Businesswoman
As a woman who seeks to go beyond her limitations and is blessed with an incredible family who supports her dream and goals, yes, a woman can have it all.
In conclusion to this article, here are a few tips or thoughts for you to process, and I hope it helps give you the clarity to be beyond your limitations.
• Just because you don’t have a strong support system does not mean you cannot break boundaries and have it all.
• The goal isn’t to impress others, the goal is to impress yourself, because the most important person in your pursuit of happiness is you; just do not hurt anyone on your way to the top.
• There will always be people who will try to bring you down simply because you are a woman. you cannot let them win.
• And lastly. You are the prize, you are the super heroine, you are the power. Now go forth and conquer and have it all, because you, my dear, can. It’s all about balance.
Till next time, bye.