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The Modern Woman's Guide to Survival

You know that voice in the back of your head that is always telling you off? Yes, the one that sounds like a paternal figure telling you that you should have known better or they knew it wouldn’t work out and you should have too but now you’ve just messed everything up! Somehow that voice just knows when to appear at just the moment things don’t go as planned or the worse possible situation has occurred and you’re in the middle of it. That stern voice that overtakes our thoughts with it’s endless litany of ways we have once again failed.

I don’t like that voice.

Like I’m just over here trying to figure out life, juggling 1000 things at once between the family, work and where I can squeeze in that 30 minutes of exercise I’m supposed to do today. Making it all go as best I can and that voice just never seems to let up. Of course what I’m doing is impossible. Yes something is going to come crashing down sooner or later but as moms, wives, employees and all the other hats we women wear what else are we supposed to do? So we just take the voice, letting it beat ourselves up for once again not living up to expectations. Ok that’s probably the easiest thing to do and oh by the way I’m already doing that.

I don’t believe women were born with this nagging voice inside them telling them they are not good enough. If I had to guess, and this is only my speculation, I think it started ages ago when women were considered property and judged in value for their looks, ability to have children and usefulness to her family in terms how well she could be married off and took care of her husband. This value placed on us by others became how we judged each other and ourselves. It was a bad thing not to marry well and bear children. It was a very bad thing if you’re husband wasn’t pleased with you. It is also here that I believe the first friend-enemy was born. We were made to compete to one another but not acting like we were because that wasn’t ladylike.

While we like to think we’re not like that anymore that way of thinking persists today in what we define as beauty and success. I could be wrong about this theory but it seems to make sense to me.

We still compete with one another. We still uphold the definitions of value by society’s terms. What has shifted is in what we define success but it is not any less complex than it was in our history. Success today is defined by the woman who can climb the corporate ladder, have a happy family balanced with her career, clean house, perfect manicure and wear a size 0-6 without showing any scars, cellulite or gray strands in her hair. If you can’t do that then you are not considered successful and often overlooked by others, including employers. Surviving in today’s modern world when we are surrounded by outdated ideals and expectations while feeling isolated by one another seems a recipe for disaster and it has been for many of us.

Begging designers to make real woman sizes and companies to make healthier food that doesn’t contain toxins and leave us feeling icky doesn’t work. Breaking glass ceilings and fighting for our rights is awesome but then we are faced with even more scrutiny by others, including other men for how we got there and constantly having to prove ourselves. It’s exhausting and relentless. We can tune it all out and I have done this myself but you end up even more alone than you were before. So how do women survive in this viciousness that only changes the style but is still the same game it has been for centuries?