There is a meme floating around social media that references how stressful it is to climb the corporate ladder, maintain a social life, have a relationship, have perfect brows, stay woke, learn the words to "Bodak Yellow," drink eight glasses of water daily, stay in shape, and stay sane and happy in today's world. To that list I will add rock my natural hair, stay fashionable, and be the best mom to two boys in the age of YouTube, Donald Trump, and constant social injustice.
While it is possible to do it all, it doesn't come without effort, sacrifice, and pushing past your comfort zone. Recently, I had an opportunity to listen to a retired female executive talk about her journey to success. The more she spoke, the more I realized that the appearance of having it all often masks actually having it all. She stated that if she had to grade herself on her career, motherhood, and being a good wife, then she was unable to maintain all As in each category. There was a time when I would have given this woman a standing ovation for this comment, but I am in a place where I realize that I cannot meet unrealistic expectations. Has the grading scale been updated to reflect the demands of women in 2017?
How do you get an A in motherhood? What does that even mean? I am a working mother; if anything, I'm starting out of the blocks at a B- because I don't spend as much time with my children. On the flip side of that, do I get an A because I contribute to my household and can provide items like food, clothing, and enrichment activities for my children?
After many, many years of stressing and worrying about how to excel in everything, I heard a message about walking in your "whatever." Life will throw so many things at you. The way you handle the situation positions you for your what's next. There will be challenges and obstacles at every phase; accept that, learn from it, and use it to prepare you for your next challenge, because there will always be another challenge.
My hairstylist told me I had damaged hair. I processed what she said with a straight face, walked into the bathroom, cried, and then told her to cut it all off. Whatever! I was in a job that made me so unhappy, so I updated my résum, interviewed, and started a new job. Whatever! I waited for years to take a trip, but no one wanted to go. I picked a date, purchased a flight, and went by myself. Whatever! I decided to stop letting life's challenges keep me from doing whatever it was I wanted or needed to do for myself to get to a better me.
Focusing on the solution, finding joy in the midst of chaos, and living without grading constraints has altered the course of my life. I am living a life focused on pursuing my happily ever after, in spite of everything being so much harder than it looks.