Realitychecks. They occur every now and then and every now and then I feel the need to share my realitychecks with you. After my not-so-serious ode to the here and now, it’s time to get serious.
This ode has to do with a story that I’ve read in a Dutch newspaper. It’s about a woman who wrote a very open article about the past with a clear (tragic) link to the here and now. In a nutshell: the article is written by a woman whose mother unfortunately took her life in 1983. The most important question after such an event is always: Why? After years her daughter was ready to find an answer to this question. And it was answered alright. Her mother had kept a diary in the past. This diary was an important source which helped the daughter understand the thoughts and feelings of her mother and how that led to her radical decision.
Rewind to the 1970s and early 1980s.
You’re a woman. Just like the decades before, your career perspective after marriage is usually: becoming a housewife and in your career perspective horizon staying a perfect housewife is priority number 1. Do you want more? The Housewife police (society and your environment) will try to bring you to the housewife pad. Are you ambitious and would you like to have your own career? What’s wrong with you? It is unthinkable.
This state of mind actually reminds me to some “vintage humor” pictures which are literally made to mock the vintage times a little bit, but… in every joke there is a serious amount of truth.
Flashforward to the present.
What are we?
Woman, writer/doctor/whatever you want, daughter, girlfriend, mother, wife etcetera.
What can we become?
Anything we like.
What do we want after that?
When do we want it?
As soon as possible.
When can we start?
Are you almost done studying or have you been part of working life for several years? Lucky you! You now only have to find out what you really want (if you don’t know it already) and pave your own path. Because you can. Nobody will stop your ambition. In fact, the career world reversed 180 degrees compared to the past. Ambition is being stimulated and if you really want to (and ofcourse have the resources), you can educate yourself in every way. Although it can be a bumpy ride. Then again, achieving your goals always involves bumpy rides in your rollercoaster of life.
The biggest difference with the past when it comes to careers? If your wanted to become something else than a housewife, you usually had a problem. You didn’t have a chance to fasten your seatbelts and go on that adventurous bumpy ride. The general mentality about women “career” perspective was: get married and become a housewife. If you had any other ambitions it was not cheered on at all. On the contrary, it was being discouraged.
Imagine society and people everywhere trying to discourage your goals and your ambition to get the most out of your (career) life. It’s like being stuck in a rain shower, with a chance of zero percent on sunshine for the rest of your life. Which is exactly what happened to the mother in the article, which I referred to in the second paragraph. The sad thing was that in the late 1980s a significant change would take place about the general perspective of women who aimed to have a career next to their role as mother and housewife. The story did have a positive and touching part, because the daughter became what her mother wanted to become: a journalist.
This brings me back to my realitycheck moment. We now take it for granted, but years ago women had to sacrifice a lot to get to the point where we are right now: freedom of (career) choice and a lot more opportunities (in the western countries). That is why paving your own path and career is so important nowadays. Although it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Nevertheless, especially in these days you should always do what you really want, not wat your environment expects you to do.
Despite of the freedom to choose your own career, there are ofcourse other difficulties these days when it comes to jobhunting. Remember that interesting job which you applied to and those 300 other persons who thought the same? Nowadays you may have to take the sideway because a highway to your (career) goal is temporarily unavailable. However, at least you now have the freedom to try in a society that stimulates you to grow as much is as you like.
Be as ambitious as you like.
Because you can.
Don’t let others bring your ambition down.
Because there are no can’ts.
Just bumps. And maybe some more bumps. And after that even larger bumps. However, after the largest bump lies happiness and success because you can do what you like with passion. And don’t forget: it’s better to have a bumpy ride than no ride at all.