My Super Woman Complex
I have a confession. I suffer from a “super woman” complex.
My little complex is born from pressure: some innate, some cultural.
In modern US culture, admitting to failure is not an option. We’ve all heard “keep trying, and you can make it happen!” or “you can do anything as long as you work hard!” People who admit to failure are criticized, ridiculed, and less respected.
When you put that in context of our overachieving, work-obsessed society, it becomes a particularly ludicrous notion
I can only speak from the context of a woman, though I suspect that men suffer from similar pressures framed in a different way.
Women are supposed to beautiful, thin and healthy, and now, thanks to some prolific celebrities that still sport bikinis and line-free faces well into their fifties, we’re not allowed to age. We’re supposed to be driven, go to college, and develop our own careers. When we have families, we’re to snap back into a size four, forge ahead with our careers, and balance the needs of our children. Don’t forget to nurture you marriage and take care of yourself at the same time! If you decide to stay home with your children, you might be criticized and accused of “wasting” your education. If you go back to work, you might be judged for “letting someone else raise your kids” (a particularly horrid thing to say, but that’s for another post). If you decide not to get married or not to have children, people will barrage you with rude questions and are quick to impose their judgments on you.
I grew up in this culture, and combining it with my own psychology, developed a “super woman” complex. Since school and corporate work-life pressures are no longer in the picture, I made new ones for myself. Go me!
When I was very young, I actually believed I could do anything if I worked really hard. After a series of failures (YES, I failed, and I’m not afraid to admit it!), I learned better.
I bounced back after my daughter was born, consulting while mostly staying at home with my daughter, working during off-hours when my husband came home from work. It was so awesome. I felt so good. My business thrived.
So what did I do? Pushed even harder, even though I was already exhausted and sleep-deprived. I published two books, actively marketed them, started working on sequels, got a dog, and started training for a half-marathon, all while being a full-time mom and still working. YES! I will be that healthy, skinny, picture-perfect woman who can DO ANYTHING and BE AWESOME and PERFECT and DO IT ALL WITHOUT ANY HELP because I’M A ROCK STAR!
But I can’t.
I’m tired. I’m run down. I feel sick most days, because it’s too much. I failed. Again.
It’s a different kind of failure, because it comes from a place of stupidity. Unlike the characters I write about, I’m not a super human, I’m just me. I’m a person: A person who needs to sleep (on occasion), a person who needs to relax, a person who needs to be loved, a person who needs to earn an income to help support my family.
I can’t do it all, and I don’t want to.
I’m simplifying life.
I finally have childcare because it’s okay to not do everything myself. We are moving closer to family so we have more support. I’m not running the half-marathon. I’m going to exercise without pushing myself to exhaustion. I’m going to eat healthy without obsessing over calorie counts. I’ve gone to the doctor to get blood work to make sure the overwhelming fatigue is not due to an underlying illness. I’m going to take better care of myself. I’m going to spend less time on social media — my books can market themselves for a while. The sequels will be written and published, just a littler later than I originally planned, and because I’m no longer rushing to get them done, they’re going to be better. And that’s okay. It’s all okay.
I’m not a super woman, I’m Miranda.