I think the biggest critical thinking error of women of my generation is that in striving to “have it all” they don’t take the necessary first step of asking, “do I want it all?”
The whole cliche presupposes that “it all” is a desirable thing. To me, “having it all” seems bulky and cumbersome. It would be stupid to split my time and energy up among a bunch of things when I could focus my undiluted attention on a select group of things that I really care about.
So then, why isn’t this piece titled “Successful PEOPLE Don’t Fall In Love?”
Because, when men fall in love, they get a wife. When women fall in love they get a husband. Despite idealism, the reality of these two paths is very disparate. For men, falling in love is an asset, for women it is a sentence to hard labor. I have no interest in marrying a woman, but I would love to have a wife. They cook and clean for you, remind you when it’s your mother’s birthday, and shoulder all the biggest burdens when it comes to raising kids. Hell, my ideal relationship would be if my husband and I could have a wife so we could both be supported without having to deal with all that minutiae ourselves.
Women respond to me when I talk like this saying, “oh, my boyfriend is progressive, he’s not like THAT.” I don’t mean stating my personal preference to be an insult, but it’s not the truth they relay during any other conversation about their relationship, even if they don’t use those words. We’re kind of brainwashed to take care of other people, and make them happy and for me, being single is kind of an armor guarding against whatever cultural or biological intuitions are telling me, as a woman, to be self-sacrificial.
Let’s say you want to have a husband and kids and a job that pays enough for you to be comfortable. That’s an achievable dream for most of my peers, the upkeep of a relationship with an easy to moderate job can work for a woman. You can balance. However, there’s people like me who don’t like middle ground, it’s not for everyone. I don’t want to be a latte, I want to be an espresso. I want all of something, or I don’t want it at all.
I want success. I want to be truly great at something. Being great at something requires sacrifice and focus. Like, when you close your eyes and your hearing improves. Obviously it’s possible, and for the vast majority of people, preferable to see and hear at the same time. But when it’s truly important, you’ll sacrifice one for the other. I caught a reality show the other day where a guy was asking his girlfriend to start a rule where three nights a week she would be done with work for the night by 5pm. THREE times a week. 5pm. That’s insane for people who are trying to build something big.
Could the thing I be “successful” or “great” at be being a wife or a mother? Sure? I guess? But then the thing you are great at is helping other people. You are a supporting cast member in your own biography. That’s not for me.
That feeling of belonging you get from being a girlfriend or wife or mother– that’s what other people feel when they’re successful. You might think it’s the “shallow” motivators of power or money. I know, personally, that’s not it. I am in love with myself, in love with building my work, which will outlive me, and in love with proving people wrong, the ones who told me what I couldn’t do– be happy and secure and the center of my own world.