What about me?
But I don’t mean me.
I mean all the ‘me’s’ in all the women who do so much for others all of the time; the endless household chores, caring for children and elderly relatives, the list goes on and it’s complex. For some it's hardwired into us, which is good and not so good, and for others we have no choice. But for most of us there is a deeper 'me' wanting to get out, to be set free to be the best version of ourselves.
Women’s ambition is being crushed by societal norms. The inflexibility of business delivery and male hierarchy is destroying talent that is so badly needed. But still week after week, year after year, I read the same posts on LinkedIn and the same eminent business publications that track progress in the workplace continue to confirm that we lose women the further up the corporate ladder they climb.
Back to me. For many years I felt like a mole burrowing to get out of the mountain of life’s stuff that kept being given to me – maybe because I’m seen as a ‘capable multi-tasking woman’ or maybe I was unconsciously asking for crushing 'load' of stuff, with something to prove. But consciously I was aware that little by little I was being buried. I got increasingly tired, over-tired so I didn't sleep. I was cross with everyone and everything and although I put a very good front on it I felt sad inside. I was running on empty.
Two years ago my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. Our future is uncertain but he is a fighter and I am too. People immediately told me to stop 2to3days and take care of him and my family, as far as I am concerned that’s a given. But what about me?
Life is tough. Life is complicated and life is unpredictable. No two lives are the same. But life gives us choices. Choices about how we want to show up in the world. Choices about what we want to do and most importantly want to be.
The only behaviour you can change is your own. Change your behaviour and you will get a different result from those around you. Keep tweaking, keep refining until you're living a life that is congruent with your values. You also don’t have to have all the answers. No one does.
Honesty alert. I got to this point in my article and stopped. Imposter syndrome kicked in - who am I to write this post on LinkedIn? I am no psychologist. It’s not peppered with links to leading articles, it is simply my internal muse that I felt like sharing, a note from my heart, the inner me. So I stopped and went off to have lunch with friends, thinking as I drove, that yet again another of my muses would never see the light of day.
After lunch my dear friend confided in me, with tears in her eyes, that she had also lost her ‘me!’ (not her exact words but you get where I am coming from). Her husband has been unwell for the past couple of years, her father died in lockdown etc. She has put her life on hold for others and in doing so she has lost who she is… so we made a plan, and in that moment I knew that I needed to write this article and press send.
I don’t believe in work life balance. It’s an equation doomed to failure and exhausting trying to achieve.
I do however believe in work life integration. Some weeks will take up more of one than the other but when you look back over the year both will have been done.
I don’t believe you can have it all. But I do believe you can have both a healthy home and work life. I also believe, and see it in action from women around me, that the more you 'be' who you really want to be, the more you will do what you need to do and have what you need to have. The woo woo in me says that when you stop fighting with yourself and start listening to what the universe is trying to tell you, you will attract the right people and right opportunities into your life. That’s the wonder of life.