The past year made me realize I don't want it all. I want to be present with my daughter, because that's what makes me happy.
- When I was young, I read a magazine cover that set my goal for many years to come.
- Telling women they can have it all is not helpful — we might not want it all.
I was taking the bus to school in the eighth grade and had a few minutes between transfers. Not wanting to open my carefully packed backpack, I decided to peruse the nearby newsstand.
There, in between magazines about architecture and homes, was the headline "Yes! A Woman Can Have It All, And What They Need To Do To Get It!"
That rolled around in my mind for the rest of my ride to school.
Up until that point I'd never heard of this "all" that was the goal. I didn't know that this was something I should be working toward, and, unfortunately, I didn't purchase the magazine to further investigate how to achieve it.
It wasn't until the pandemic that I realized just how far I had tucked this idea and pressure of "all" in my mind.
Fast-forward many years, and I'm a mom
Only when I was forced to slow down did I reflect on my goal — and, more importantly, on what I wanted to teach my daughter.
I want her to know that before she goes after "it all," she should define what that means for her. Her "all" does not have to be measured against anything other than her own goals, passions, and purpose. Most importantly, I want her to know that the biggest "all" that will always be with her is herself and that she should always be a priority on her "all" list.
I basically want her to do the opposite of what I was doing.
I had been pushing and pulling and grinding — well past my limits — because I thought that if I had it all then I would be happy. What I was missing in that pursuit outside my home was all the happiness and love that required only my being, not doing, inside our lockdown bubble.
This pandemic gave me so much time to enjoy all that I had: family, love, community. Being able to snuggle a bit longer with my daughter, making dinner together because I had omitted the commute from our hectic schedules, and taking more time to play a game or give each other facials was the "all" that I had missed and didn't even realize it. The biggest lesson in redefining "all" was the realization that she was to get more of me and that I deserve more of me.
Having it all is not the same for everyone
The realization quickly seeped into my consciousness that all "all"s are not the same.
Many Black women might hope that gaining the family, the career, the body, the degrees and accolades, and all other things will finally remove the cloud of racism that often hangs above their opportunities for advancement and just basic respect.
"All" is not just a goal — it can subconsciously fill the chasm between us and the injustice we frequently experience on the journey to achieve it.
There's another sneaky consideration: When women are told that all must be achieved, we can juxtapose it against none for someone else.
So as I sat for the umpteenth day in lockdown, it hit me: My goal isn't "all" at all. I now realize I don't want or need to have it all.
My joy doesn't require that. I should desire and work to attain what is meant for me, believing that I will achieve it and supporting and celebrating other women along their journey to the same.
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