Societal norms and beliefs that once denied women the right to vote haven’t completely vanished – they’ve taken on a different form; no less stifling, still as repressive. Modern day women are consumed with never-ending responsibilities and duties, but we’re finally stepping out of our roles as mothers and housewives and living lives that we choose. But if you think to survive as a woman in today’s world you have to wake up at 6am to meditate, sip on a celery juice whilst you cycle to work, and end the day with hot yoga and a farm-to-table home cooked meal – then think again. Thriving and surviving as a female in the 21st century isn’t as straightforward as you may think.
The 21st century has introduced new expectations for women; we’re supposed to make it in the working world taking care of our families whilst juggling multiple other responsibilities. Which begs the question, do we choose our careers or start a family? We no longer have to embrace past markers of femininity and restrict ourselves to domestic duties – yet we must still conform to old-school stereotypes whilst keeping pace with the demands of the 21st century. We need to be breadwinners and caregivers, strong enough to brave the workforce but compliant enough to raise children. Failure to fulfil both roles doesn’t go down well, and we women are our own worst critics. Whilst we’re free from some restraints society once placed upon us, we’re still enslaved to our own enforced shackles. In this day and age, we can have it all. We no longer have to live our lives mapped out for us in timelines like our parents or grandparents may have done, instead we make decisions about how and when we do things. Want to be a young mother and get your degree? Fine. Want to be a CEO whilst raising a family? No problem. Sometimes moving sideways in life will make you happier than moving forward, so don’t compare where you’re at now with where you want to be.
When it comes to work, it’s said that the more time you spend working the more you create and the better your work is… wrong. Overworking reduces efficiency, and allowing yourself time to rest and refresh is wise. Most of us feel stressed and overworked, but cannot say what our average week looks like and how much time we spend working inside and outside the office. Maintaining a good work/life balance is key to survival in the 21st century. Women who separate their work from their home lives are emotionally more stable, get better sleep, and live not only healthier but happier lives overall. So giving your brain a break can be a good thing. There’s this fear that if you’re not constantly hustling (and posting about it) then you haven’t really made it, but that’s not true at all. Amass knowledge and information that allows you to make informed decisions about when to work and when to stop, and know your limits. Follow your instincts and trust yourself – and don’t worry what others think.
Everywhere we look today we see role models, and people whom we aspire to be like. Everyone and their aunts are dishing out life advice and guidance, and whilst some of it’s worth listening too – some of it isn’t. It’s indeed motivating to want more out of life; more from your career, more money in your bank account, more meaningful relationships. But to thrive as a woman in the 21st century instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do. Remind yourself that even though you have hopes and dreams, you’ve accomplished a lot in this little time we have on earth. To thrive in life, stop worrying about people understanding you and get in touch with yourself. The world will keep spinning either way. You’re your own biggest commitment, so focus on what makes you happy. You’re made to do great things, and if you set your mind to something – just know it can happen.
Being a woman in the 21st century is no mean feat. We now account for large contributions to breakthroughs in engineering, politics, medical care, and more. Technology and modernisation of the world allow us to be more self-sufficient than ever before in history, our possibilities are endless. To thrive as a woman today have the courage to live a life that’s true to you, not a life that others expect. The most reliable way to predict your future is to create it.
Written by J’Nae Phillips
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