Do you see that woman who is juggling her two kids, the cleanliness of her house, the social life of her husband and a full-time job? Do you see the other one who is teacher by day, artist by night, takes care of her ailing father on weekends and goes to the gym three times a week somewhere in between? What about the CEO who’s also a single mom to two teenagers, runs a support group for women who lost their mothers and mentors young women starting their own businesses?
Other women shake their heads in wonder and ask, “How do you do it all?” And Wonder Woman might answer, “Do what all?” to rolling eyes and gaping mouths.
You see them. You know them. You call them Superwomen, Super Mamas, Wonder Women or some other version of amazing.
And they are.
It’s not false modesty, it’s not pride and t’s not superhuman ability. It’s not a surplus of brains or giftedness or talent.
It’s often an inability to operate any other way despite the desire to do so, despite exhaustion and being stretched too thin and lack of sleep and lack of time to enjoy whatever moments we’re actually speeding through.
Maybe at the core of it, it’s actually ‘not-enoughness’.
We do it all because often we don’t know how to ask for help or we don’t feel like we have other options; we’re unable to compromise or we can’t let go of one thing in favor of another; we’re unable to prioritize or be patient; we feel a constant need to achieve more, to validate ourselves, to mother the world, or we just can’t let the little things go and be less than perfect, whatever that may look like in our skewed perspectives.
Wonder Women have their own share of growing-into and learning and letting-go and evolving they need to do, just like everyone else. And it’s just as challenging as your growth.
While you struggle to put down that Snickers, she struggles to sit down. While you struggle to breathe during Zumba, she struggles to take a breath between projects. While you cry to your BFF when you’re down, she silently cries into her pillow at 2am, and while you struggle to enjoy the moment or accept yourself or find self-worth, believe it or not, she does too.
There are no Super Women. There are just women who continue to demand more of themselves and drive themselves harder, without evaluating their progress, pausing to enjoy where they are, or taking time out to tap themselves on the back and nod their heads in approval of themselves.
The truth is that this ‘Super Woman’ label can be quite exhausting to women who are already so good at exhausting themselves. The truth is this ‘Wonder Woman’ label can be quite isolating to women who already struggle with sharing their weaknesses, can’t ask for help or don’t know how to solicit support.
I know Super Woman is meant to be a compliment, but often it doesn’t land that way for said woman. Instead it ends up being another bar she has to measure up to because, once, it was just her expecting so much of herself. And now?
It’s everyone else too.
So while it may seem that us mere mortals couldn’t possibly measure up to the accomplishments of Super Women everywhere, we could start by understanding that everyone has their own struggles, we could start by focusing on measuring up to our own self-worth targets, we could start by dialing back the pressure on them and stop calling them Super Women. That label just makes them feel like they need to maintain that status even more.
If anything, help them be more human. Help them set their burden down. Help them laugh a little. Help them be!