Is “Having It All” Really Enough?


By Kristin Christopoulos

I was born long after the Suffragettes had fought for my future right to vote and Gloria Steinem  had established a new wave of the women’s liberation movement. By the time I came along, Rosie the Riveter had already inspired women to think about their value to society, June Cleaver had traded in her pearls and vacuum for a career outside of her home, and Hillary Clinton was making a name for herself in the political spectrum. In short, I was born at a time when women were taught that they could have it all. Yes- you can go to college after high school! Yes- you can dream of and have a high powered career! Yes- you can marry and have a family, too!

The thought of all that I could have, of all that I could do, was dizzying and exciting all at the same time. In my early to mid twenties, I worked hard to earn my college degree and start a career for myself. I was lucky and found a wonderful man, whom I married. And I continued to capitalize on all of the opportunities that life threw at me.

But now I find myself in a different mindset entirely. I have a  job that I enjoy and am invested in, but I work too much and never feel that I will be able to stop. I have a wonderful husband who means the world to me, but I constantly feel that I am not giving him the best parts of myself. I want to start a family, but worry that it will become just another burden, more responsibility and more people to take care of.

I applaud the women who came before me and paved the way for me to even think of having all that I have. And I am grateful for the educational and societal system that made my success possible. It is true, women today can have it all. What I struggle with is how to have it all and enjoy it all.

There is a pretty big difference between having something, and enjoying having something. And I’m not talking about the occasional feelings of being overwhelmed, or of thinking about what life would be like it you had taken an alternate path; because those are natural feelings no matter how happy you are in life. I am talking about the constant and all-consuming feeling that you are never good enough, that you are never deserving of, all that you have. I give each day all that have, all of my time, my energy, my focus, and I go to bed each night thinking, “What did I do today that I truly enjoyed?” Sadly, most days, I can think of about 1 hour out of my 16-17 hour day in which I truly enjoyed myself. And that thought alone really paralyzes me sometimes.

However, any entry level psychologist will tell you that the first step to fixing a problem is seeing the problem. So I take comfort in the fact that even though I’m only 28, I can see that I am going down a path that is not good for me. I am not sure what the answer is for me yet. Maybe I need to scale back on my career and give less to my work. Maybe I should continue on as is, but place more of an emphasis on yoga, on mindfulness, on simplicity. And maybe the answer is that I just need to get out of my own darn head, stop psychoanalyzing myself, and take all the effort I put into that and focus it instead on enjoying everything that I have.

If all of these women who came before me fought so hard for what I have, then maybe what I really need is to show a little gratitude, practice more mindfulness, tell my overactive imagination to stop creating problems where there are none, and just enjoy the life that I have been lucky enough to make for myself. Maybe, just maybe, if I actively choose to enjoy my work, my husband, my friends, and my home, if I give myself a break from constantly worrying that I am not doing enough, that I am not enough, I might actually get to have it all and enjoy it all, too.

Kristin is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty On Tap. The views and opinions expressed in Contributing Writer articles reflect those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the site. 

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{featured image via pexels}

One thought on “Is “Having It All” Really Enough?

  1. Eliza David says:

    Great read! I used to buy into ‘having it all’, but now at 37, I’ve learned that it is up to me to define my ‘all’. For me, that means working full-time, raising kids with my husband, and still (!) finding time to write. It’s tough but since I created the ‘all’ for myself, I can control how much I give each facet of my life. It changes daily but the flexibility keeps me sane.


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