‘Having It All’ – Opportunity or Stress?

Is Having It All a message which encourages our young women to step up to opportunities... or one which creates increased pressure to succeed ?

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We are in the age of celebration for ‘Having It All’. Never before have we been so clear that women have every opportunity and can be whatever they dream. It is a message we give to our young women and girls and it is supported by the beautiful Instagram world of success and living the dream.

.. and yet are we creating additional pressure? Is the very fact that we almost expect our next generation to be everything putting undue stress on them at a time when life is already challenging as they start to transition into the adult world?

In my world as a therapist more and more young women are expressing anxiety about what the future holds. Fuelled by a need to portray a slick confidence and a positive social image on an almost constant basis there appears little downtime to simply just be themselves. And if they can’t do that how can they decide what having it all means to them?

Additionally for many young women their social and economic background, culture and environment may not be supportive of the fabulous opportunities we say are on offer. Not every one is encouraged or has opportunity to attend university ( which appears to be the go to option in order to get ahead these days). They may not be exposed to thinking which encourages entrepreneurial thoughts or they may have duties and responsibilities which limit their ability to focus on themselves.

The whole concept of ‘Having It All’ can seem a world away from their own realities,when simply getting to school and having food on the table is an achievement.

I am starting to get a strong feeling that whilst we continue to drive home the message of anything is possible we miss out the steps of how this can happen, which in turn can make it seem a message which is out of reach and out of touch with the real world for many.

The question I believe we need to review is how do we support young women across all backgrounds to feel they can take steps towards a future which builds on their dream?. and how can they build their dreams in a way that shapes opportunity in tangible steps that they feel are relevant to them and achievable?

Should we step away from the phrase ‘having it all’ and celebrate the achievements and successes already in place? That whatever you have – you are enough as a person already – that to me seems to spark a feeling of choice.. and when we have choice we have options..

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