1. “I want to have it all.”
Here’s the worst myth women in my generation believe (and I’m guilty of this too), we believe that we want to do it all: we want a high-powered career, and a family, and a well-organized home, and travel, and the perfect relationship, and the perfectly baked macaroons for the bake sale.
Here’s a great quote from Courtney Martin that illustrates this:
We are the girls with anxiety disorders, filled appointment books, five-year plans. We take ourselves very, very seriously. We are the peacemakers, the do-gooders, the givers, the savers. We are on time, overly prepared, well read, and witty, intellectually curious, always moving… We pride ourselves on getting as little sleep as possible and thrive on self-deprivation. We drink coffee, a lot of it. We are on birth control, Prozac, and multivitamins… We are relentless, judgmental with ourselves, and forgiving to others. We never want to be as passive-aggressive as our mothers, never want to marry men as uninspired as our fathers… We are the daughters of the feminists who said, “You can be anything,” and we heard, “You have to be everything.
It’s exhausting to be a woman when you are trying to live up to this notion. And, why would you want to? Figure out what your passions are and follow them relentlessly, let things you don’t care about fall by the wayside and screw anyone who judges you for not being well-rounded enough.
2. “My life would be better if I was thinner or more attractive.”
This lie is so hard to beat when we can look at Tumblr and Instagram and surround ourselves with images of beautiful, rich people who seemingly have zero problems. But you have to do it. You can even look at studies that say tall men and beautiful women end up making more money. The truth is, your happiness and your quality of life is only dependent on you. If you can’t figure out how to love your life when things aren’t perfect, you’ll always find imperfect things about your life — “perfect” is a moving target. Beautiful, thin, rich, successful, whatever-trait-you-wish-you-had people are unhappy all the time. It’s not the external circumstances that make or break happiness.
I wrote here about how shocked I was last summer when a girl I followed from The Bachelor, Gia Allemand, killed herself. To outsiders she had the perfect life: she was a swimwear model, effortlessly beautiful with a sparkling presence on TV, and in a relationship with a professional athlete. But those aren’t the things it takes to be happy, to have a good quality of life.
3. “I can’t break up with this person who is bad for me, I’m meant to be with him.”
It always seems impossible to take the step you need to take to get unstuck in life: quit your job, dump a toxic friend, or move on from a relationship that has had some great high points, but needs to be over. But you need to remind yourself that the first step is always the scariest, but you have a 100% success rate of moving on. It seems like there will never be a better job, a better friend, a better boyfriend — until you find it. It’s very hard to imagine something you haven’t experienced before, we don’t know how to open our minds up to just how good things can be.
4. “It’s good to put other people’s needs ahead of my own.”
You know when you take an airplane trip and they tell you what happens if the cabin loses pressure? Put on your own oxygen mask before you help others. You are good to no one if you pass out. Don’t keep yourself from becoming a complete person because you are caring for the needs of your partner and family while letting yourself run on empty. Everyone benefits from you putting your own needs first, especially the person who matters, yourself.