I came across a quote I first heard in college. The punchline has always stuck with me, as I am sure the writer had hoped. She said: “We are the daughters of the feminists who said “You can be anything” and we heard “You have to be everything.”
I am not sure when exactly in my upbringing that became, what one of my theory professors would call, a “big T truth” for me. I have always been a hard worker, focused, driven, and prided myself for it. To be honest, I boast about it constantly in subtle ways, and sometimes not so subtle ways. I feel a small glow when a person gives me that look of awe and I simply blow it off with a statement like “I like my life this way” or “It’s really not that much…”
Today, for example, I felt like I was everything. I woke up at 6am to go to yoga. Sweated buckets in my CorePower 2 class, secretly competing for the best postures. After 60 minutes, I picked up cat food, shampoo, and conditioner at CVS. Came home, held my patience while talking to my mother about my brother. Hopped in the shower and got dressed for work. Packed my lunch, talked to my boyfriend on FaceTime. Checked Facebook where I wished an old friend “Happy Birthday, hope it’s a good one!” By 9am I was on my way to work. Got to the office and typed my notes while having idle chit chat about my weekend. Went to some meetings, grabbed a coffee, did more notes, rescheduled clients, went to a client meeting where I handled a suicidal crisis. Pushed my anxiety aside, drove home, ate dinner in 20 minutes and then ran to UCSD to advise a Sigma Kappa meeting. Stayed after to help them with some disiplinary issues, and got home by 10pm. Threw on some old clothes, cleaned the apartment, scanned some documents, and showered. I ended the day shaving my legs and studying for my upcoming interview. It’s 12am.
As I sat down in my towl, hair wet, and a let out a sigh. I realized, I wasn’t thinking of all that I accomplished. All the amazing experiences, though tiring, all that I learned, smiled about, or enjoyed. Instead I looked in the mirror and saw the pimple on my face, the razor burn on my thigh, and then thought my stomach wasn’t flat enough and my skin not tan enough. I thought how I wished I was different, sexier, for my boyfriend that flies in tomorrow. I thought about how I didn’t get around to vaccuuming like I wanted. I thought about the To Do list waiting for me tomorrow. But none of this was in a self pity, low self esteem way. No, these were fleeting thoughts that suddenly made me realize I am trying to be everything when I could be anything.