I would say that 2019 has been an interesting year of unwinding my own sense of self and unpacking many many many teachings which I have found to be anchors in my life.
One of the hardest ones that I’ve had to process is ‘potential’.
I have spent a vast majority of my mid-teens to early 30s trying to live up to my potential. Be that through dieting, completing two Master’s degrees, starting up and running a successful business or even here …. in this online space.
There’s an extraordinary amount of pressure on women to live up to their potential. It exemplifies and underpins smart marketing tactics, copy writing on crisp webpages, an over indulgence in the beauty industry and the growth of mental health issues which do not discriminate.
It’s become this powerful elixir to hold people in the ‘lacking’ state in all contexts: business, motherhood, marriage, religion, career, education.
It’s a slogan, a marketing tactic, it’s a weapon.
Over the past couple of years I began to hold onto this notion that I needed to ensure that I was making the most of my life. That I wasn’t ‘squandering this sweet precious life’. I was fed this in both the secular and religious space to varying degrees. I had to seek out and find my divine purpose. It became a relentless driver in my life both in my professional and personal life.
It also was part of the undoing of my wholeself in 2016.
As I navigated back into the world of laundry, dishes, school drop offs, dance practices and horse back riding lessons I couldn’t help but to think about how much the word POTENTIAL had been at the forefront of my anxiety of slipping behind. I have had many conversations with friends throughout the past couple of months about what it means to run at a pace which feels counter-cultural to the speed that is fed to women both online and in conversations.
The reality is, is that I do think that women ‘can have it all’ — but I don’t think that we can ‘have it all’ — all at the same time.
I was texting back and forth to someone recently about juggling some casual nursing work that I do and the questions were asked as to wether or not the nursing work lights my fire or burns me out.
I replied: neither. It puts money in the holiday fund, it enables me to use my strengths and it also means I don’t bring work home.
I don’t know why my response above felt so life affirming. NEITHER. It’s neither exhausting or radically soul sparking. It’s a job I enjoy and it means I have time with my family.
The conversations we need to begin having with ourselves and with other women is around the idea that ‘potential’ can be both a spark for growth and/or a quick sand of hinderance.
Let us be stewards of how we speak into ourselves and into the hearts of other women when we speak about potential.