Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You can't have it all

In the 90s I did an arts degree (journalism major). All my life I have loved to learn - especially history - and doing my degree gave me lots of opportunities to spend time pondering the past.

With Spring nearly over (only a few days left) I have been doing a spot of 'culling'. Nothing like throwing stuff out to make room for the unstoppable invasion of plastic knick knacks that attack my house each Christmas.

Going through my filing cabinet I stumbled across these assignment notes. They were from a course called Myth and Ideology and we studied Greek mythology and its impact on the world.

Now there's a fun way to blow a thousand dollars! I just loved this subject.

The premise of the assignment was Antigone encounters opposition not because she is strong minded and transgressive, but because she's a woman. How much fun I had reading the old texts and coming up with arguments to support my ideas.

Back then, I was quite the feminist. I was going to be someone. I wasn't going to let 'being a girl' get in the way of my success. I wrote for smaller newspapers and envisaged a life with a briefcase and BMW. I had planned a law degree after finishing my Arts (unless Getaway called and offered me my dream job as a location researcher).

Fast forward 16 years - here I am with a dusty briefcase under my bed, three kids arguing over who gets to shower first today and a stack of report cards to complete.

What would my younger self think? That I've failed? Like Antigone, I've been a victim of my own femininity? Would she wonder what happened?

This is what happened. I made a decision. A decision to follow my heart to a boy in a country town. I went into a job that wasn't my first preference but one I knew could make me happy. I made a decision to have children in my twenties because I knew I really wanted a family more than anything else in the world. I knew I couldn't possibly build the family I wanted and climb the career ladder at the same time (although I did try it for a bit).

Maybe other people can. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm just saying I couldn't do it and be happy. I don't think that makes me a failure.

I'm still in contact with some people from my uni days. They're either like me - having chosen other dreams over career-success, or they're enjoying career success sans family.

If I could go back to my younger self, I'd tell her it's not important to have it all. What is important to have priorities. And do what makes you happiest.

Works for men, too. When our eldest was a baby, my husband was busy building an empire - determined to climb that career ladder all the way up. Mr Z and I watched Gilmore girls and ate steamed veges on our own every night while Daddy worked himself ragged in the office. He missed the first steps, the excitement of the first words - he missed putting that sleepy baby down for his sleep at night.

By our third child hubby had discovered that some dreams are bigger than an enormous bank balance and had changed his priorities. He downsized and even took a year working from home so that he could enjoy playing with our Small Boy while he was still an infant. He is happier than he has ever been.

Am I glad I chose family over career? Yes. I can live with not having a BMW, but I couldn't have been content without having had kids. Seeing friend struggle with infertility, I thank my lucky stars every single day for these small people who have blessed my life.

Do I wonder what my life could have been? Of course I do. But I wouldn't change it for the world. Do I feel I have failed, given that I haven't reached my career potential? No. I might not have a BMW but I do have a happy family, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Wondering what inspired this rant reflection? This article. It sounds like one I would have written in my early twenties. If you're on team contented is enough, read the comments. They made me smile :)


1 comment:

  1. I love that you are still happy with your lot in life even though it wasn't quite the original plan. Yay for you being able to follow your heart. I wanted to be a journalist but for one reason or another it just never quite happened. Cest la vie.

    Leaving some fairy wishes and butterfly kisses from #teamIBOT


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