Women are being sold a bill of goods and most of it buy it without questioning if its good for our mental and emotional well-being. It’s the bill of goods that mass and social media is selling us. I have often found in my counseling work and in my social life that women’s expectations of themselves are totally unrealistic and yet this is normal and some of us believe it’s healthy! Women struggle with not feeling good enough and falling short of “perfect” constantly. Let me point out the obvious “PERFECT IS NOT REAL, THERE’S NO SUCH THING LADIES!” We have expectations placed on us that men do not. Now days many of us are expected to be educated and hold a career while also having most of the duty of organizing, cleaning and running a home. Once a woman becomes a mother she f(or most families) is in charge of child rearing. She is probably also in charge of making sure the family’s schedule runs smoothly. Most women try balancing work, family and (the big one) looking a certain way and most of us struggle to keep up the balancing act. I know some women that can juggle well for a little while, but when a crisis strikes a ball will eventually be dropped in order to attend to the crisis. Society place expectations on women that we must not age and we must stay a size 2 all the while juggling several roles and numerous responsibilities. Our society defines attractiveness for men by power, wealth and status largely leaving out the issues of physical attractiveness or not emphasized as much as it is for women.
I have women clients that struggle with depression and self-hatred largely because they have fallen hook, line and sinker for society’s notions without examining them for themselves. The have assumed “well if everyone says this is who I should be, should act like, should look like then I should try and be that person.” Then when they fall short (and they will) then they feel like horrible disappointments.
I don’t know any woman that is doing all the following perfectly: holding down a 40 hour work week or full college class load, running and maintaining a home, cooking all the meals, cleaning the home, doing and putting away laundry in a timely manner, taking care of her children, managing their school and/or lessons/sports schedule, grocery and supply shopping for the family, keeping her children well clothed, keeping in touch with friends, taking care of her hair, nails and skin, exercising daily, maintaining a flawless figure even after childbirth, paying the bills, advancing in her career, has deep friendship with at least 3 women and spends time with them regularly, has a good marriage and is constantly working with her husband to improve their relationship, is parenting well and helping their children not only succeed academically but helping them develop their emotional IQ and social skills, has good relationships with all her family members and in-laws, attends to spiritual needs daily (spending time with God or her higher power), attends a church or a some social meeting that benefits herself and community, volunteers her time to help the less fortunate, is trying to better herself with learning new things daily, keeping up with current events and staying active on social media. Attending timely to unexpected things that come up like, someone in the family gets sick, damage to the home, the washing machine is broken or a car repair needs repair without dropping the ball on all the previous items I listed. This is not an exhaustive list; I just can’t think of anything else at the moment.
How many women do you know that can do all of these well, all of the time without having any difficulty? Now I know that some women rely (as they should) on help from their spouse to help them take care of the above list as they should but many women try to do it all without help from anyone. That’s just not realistic!!! Ladies look at your expectations and where they came from and start to question them! Start with trying to put these expectations into words in order to uncover if they are realistic expectations. Ask yourself where did these expectations come from? How and when did you begin to internalize these expectations? Whose approval are you seeking by trying to meet all these expectations? Perhaps once you have really examined these expectations you will begin to change or discard some of them all together.