Some expect us to do certain tasks. Others expect us to act in certain ways or to respond to certain situations in a prescribed manner. We have accepted some of those expectations willingly, even joyfully, while others under protest. Deep down inside, we need to admit that we cannot possibly meet all the expectations heaped upon of us.
We know that the more we try, the more disappointed we become in our inability to satisfy them all.
On top of the expectations from others, we also have our own expectations. Some are rooted in the way we were raised, some are influenced by our gender, and some are misperceptions about how someone in our position is expected react. Let’s take a closer look into these expectations—we may be surprised at what we see.
In our culture, women have been raised to be caring, flexible, intuitive, facilitating, and cooperative. We see what needs doing and we aren’t shy about getting it done. These are terrific characteristics. They are skills that women have been socialized to provide, and they are valuable in business. Unfortunately, these expectations wedge women in a double bind.
Even though we might like to compete and hit home runs, we are still expected to emulate society’s ideal of what our role should be: to behave properly, love babies, entertain beautifully, excel in the kitchen, keep a smoothly running and attractive home, remember all family birthdays and anniversaries, remember all family members’ appointments, volunteer, tutor the children, carpool, prepare for holidays, serve as timekeeper for the family schedules, plan vacations and parties, and serve as the entertainment coordinator. And this list is an over-simplification!
Having said that, even though we have been told we can be anything we want to be, as we enter the workplace, we soon discover the Catch-22: no matter how stellar our performance, we are still expected to conform to societal norms. We must host wonderful social events, smooth over bumpy relationships, cooperate even when it is inconvenient, know our place, and complete our tasks in a timely manner. And the workplace doesn’t give a woman credit for balancing work and home.
All the while, at home, most women are given little or no credit for their demanding role at work. We are still expected to be a supportive wife, an exceptional mother, a good friend, a happy homemaker, an effective community volunteer, and an ideal daughter.
In the past, those might have been our options, but we’re here to tell you that you can do what you need to do, and still have time to do those things you want to do.
Choose what is right for you.
Let’s face it, it is impossible to be all things for all people.
Acknowledging that fact, we must decide what activities and priorities are most important. Our list may fluctuate frequently, and it definitely will change over time, but we need to be aware that we are making a choice—even if we do nothing more than retain the status quo. Keeping our priorities in mind will help us make good choices in the use of our time, energy, and resources. People who have satisfying lives have chosen to be in the driver’s seat of their lives; they choose what they truly desire, and then they act on their choices.