Nobody is perfect. Not you. Not me. There, I said it.
As I scroll through Instagram for the nth time today and look at the feeds of people getting married, having kids, getting perfect jobs, or just hanging out with friends — something I haven’t been able to do in the last 3 years — I grow petty. Why does everyone but me seem to have a great (ok, maybe I’ll dial it down to ‘decent’ considering the pandemic) life? Why do I not have it all?
Not that I want everyone’s personal lives shoved in my face, but I can’t help it when it comes to opening Instagram every five minutes to see if there’s something good every time I’m bored. Oh wait, I’m talking about my fridge. Or am I?
The point is, we can’t have it all. No one can.
Here’s what Michelle Obama had to say about ‘having it all’ — “It’s become a mantra in our heads, particularly of women. But it’s so stupid. No one has it all. We’re not supposed to have it all. What we fought for, as women, was choice. The ability to make a broader set of choices about our lives.” And we agree. We get to define what ‘all’ is for each one of us, and if we do not have it all, it’s okay.
Instead of having it all – or what you think you should be doing to have it all – here’s what to do:
1. You do you
Social media is just about the highlights — mostly about the ups (although recently people have taken to showcasing the downs too). But it certainly does not give the full picture. As much as people would like you to believe that they are throwing up rainbows and sunshine every day, know that it is not true.
2. Compare the struggles
Comparing yourself to others is probably not the best thing to do, and we definitely don’t encourage it.
But since most of us are hardwired that way (thanks to Indian parents!), if you’re going to do it anyway, do it right. Instead of comparing timelines and successes, look at the failures and setbacks. Remind yourself that Sharma ji ki beti was probably compared to Varma ji’s beti who was compared to Dharma ji’s beti. Take some comfort in that and set your course at your own pace.
3. Make mistakes
Let’s be honest. You can’t only have ups and no downs at all. Life is about making mistakes and messing it up, only to learn from them.
So, be a failure every once in a while. Don’t do your best at the next presentation. Set fire to your desk. Pack up your things in the middle of the day and pretend you’re in Belgium. You’re probably going to get a sound hearing once you’re back, but at least you’ll know from first-hand experience what not to do or where you can be better.
4. Take it one step at a time
Just imagine yourself having a delicious plate of biryani. And then someone plopped gulab jamuns on top of it. You’d be crazy to mix those two together and eat it. My advice: finish your plate and then go for dessert. Instead of going for ‘it all’ at the same time, pace yourself and try to check things off one at a time. And hey, you don’t have to do them all. You can go for cake if that’s what you want.
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5. Know what you want
Your cousin might be a doctor and already married. Your classmate might have started her own business and might soon go international. But that’s their thing. If we all had to follow the same golden path, what would be the point? Let your passport be the only useless thing in your life right now.
You’re not everyone else; you’re you. Find what you want and do only that.
6. Stop should-ing it all
Unrealistic expectations are already set for us — who we are, what we must achieve, and how we must look while we do it. People keep giving us to-do lists of should dos, and that makes us feel like failures. The easy solution: stop doing all the ‘shoulds’, and do only the ‘wants’. Not all your goals are a priority, so push the things you’re doing only for the sake of others off the edge. Be a cat, if you will.
7. Edit your life
Your Instagram pictures and Stories are not the only things that need editing. Edit out the things you hate doing or the things you think you need to do. Only keep your priorities, things that help you achieve your goals, and of course, your daily needs — sleep, meals, your 9th cup of coffee, a mid-day breakdown, whatever.
8. Make friends
Agreed, it isn’t easier to make friends as adults. When we’re children, we could walk up to a random kid and just ask them to play with their toys. Now you have to book an appointment, circle back, and then put a pin in it because who even has time for friends? It’s tough out there, so whether it’s work or your life in general, make friends, lots of them, to help you get through it all. Who says only bosses can delegate, but you can’t?
9. Be the main character
Don’t we all want to be the main character? Even if it may seem like you’re just the quirky best friend who supports the star of the movie, know that you are a main character too. Your mind might be Mean Girls with the constant belittling of your abilities, but make sure you have some time to Gimore Girls your head a bit too.
From time to time, remind yourself that it’s okay to not have it all figured out. Erase society’s expectations of what your life should be, and accept where you are now. You might even be in hell, but it’ll only get better.
As long as you’re pushing yourself — gently, of course — to be the person you want to be, you’re doing just fine.
So give yourself a break once in a while, as you pour yourself some big girl juice (we meant coffee) and enjoy it as it is.
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