Sunday, June 27, 2010

How Did SuperWoman Achieve Balance?

A while back I attended a twitter party where the theme was attaining a work-life balance. While participating I said a lot of things that I was directing at myself, like:

“ We have to turn off the traditional supermujer  (super woman) mentality, where we justify the notion that we have to take care of x, y, and z before me. That doesn't work .” - @LaLicenciada

I've been through a lot of therapy to come to the conclusion that it is o.k. to take care of Me. There was never an example of a woman in my life that took care of herself first. It was not the norm. 

Try to RememberWhile I read the book Try To Remember by Iris Gomez I saw how easily Latinas fall into that trap. In it, the protagonist does so much for her family, just short of sacrificing her dreams. It reminds me so much of myself, my childhood and the sacrifices I made for the benefit of my family. Whenever I thought of my own needs before that of my family, the thought ¿Quien te crees? (who do you think you are?) Popped into my mind.

It saddens me to think that it’s so "easy" to be the martyr. I would take care of  everyone else’s needs and push me aside. When I did that, I was a good daughter and a wonderful woman, friend, lover, and person.  I was a good girl. But if I were to put myself first, that would make me selfish.  ¿Quien te crees?

That mentality is all wrong.  How many of us have seen our own mothers give up their own happiness for our sake or for the sake of their husbands or their parents? We learn by example and it’s very easy to fall into that role.

The “I can do it all,” supermujer role is ingrained in us.  I can take care of my family, dress like I’m walking the runway, be a rock-star at work, hit the gym hard, whip up an amazing meal, keep the house sparkling, manage my side business/blog/write my book and be a porn star in bed, and I will do it all within this 24 hour period. Yea right.  Something’s gotta give. 

If we try to keep the whole weight of our own world balanced on one measly plate, with a Colgate smile in tow, get ready to cue the emotional breakdown. Because you know that’s when it happens. And then what? No sirves para nada. (You’re no good to anyone).

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be nurturing, giving or self-sacrificing. I think those can be beautiful qualities. However, it should not be an all-encompassing quality that overshadows ones hopes and dreams. It’s taken me and still takes me time to realize that. 

We have to make time for ourselves. Real time. Time to say, I don’t give a crap if the house looks like this, or if my hair isn’t dyed, or if we eat out tonight, because dammit, I need a break.  Or I need to focus on my projects this week so please don’t rely on me. Or simply, just say NO. “No, I really can’t.” 

Try it. Say no. Say NO to the computer screen right now. Did you do it? Ahhh, so it is possible to say no and not feel guilty. Good job. That’s the first step. 

I’m not writing this because I’m so amazing that I’ve completely achieved a work-life balance. Far from it. I still fall into the trap of taking on too much, committing to too many things, help the world while still trying to achieve my goals. It can really run my ragged. It has. I’ve let it. But I’m a work in progress. 

It’s not easy being a supermujer.  

Part of it is learning to only do what you actually can do and not everything that is expected of you. 


Credit and Disclosure

Image of Try To Remember courtesy of I am an amazon associate.