Why Can’t Women Be Enough As They Are? (Trying To Prove Their Value To Society Is Making Them Miserable, Empty, and Unfulfilled)
Disclaimer: I am certainly expecting to get bashed for this, but I believe that this is too important not to share, due to the increasing rates of anxiety and depression amongst women and the downward incline of the economy. I am simply opening up a discussion in order to make sense of what’s going on in general and how demanding societal expectations and hyper-ambitiousness are actually counterproductive to women’s wellbeing and sense of worth.
It seems like everyone these days is trying to vie for the number one spot. All for money, influence, power, and pride.
This especially harms young women because in order to be measured as “valuable” in society, women have to accomplish everything that a man has to do plus all the traditionally feminine things.
Young women are encouraged to become girl bosses, to have high-paying careers, to prove that they’re special through some insanely prodigious talent, and to serve society in some monumental and press-worthy way, whether they want to or not. If they fail to do so, they’re ostracized for not keeping up with other superior women (the ones who seem to have it all — beauty, intellect, high earnings, power, altruism) and they’re shamed for being unintelligent and lazy leeches, which is why so many of these women struggle with anxiety and depression. They’re conflicted because they’re constantly reminded that they’re useless and worthless if they aren’t working themselves to death for 16 hours a day, studying something that may not align with their true passions, being ranked at the top of everything they do, earning more than men, or accomplishing great, noble, and highly commendable things (on a national level) that somehow give the outward impression that they’re intelligent, competitive, altruistic, and powerful enough to be worthy of existence.
But many girls from a young age were indoctrinated and pressured into the whole consumerist, Social Darwinian scheme: “Go to college, make yourself smart and useful, get a high-paying job, and stop being a burden.” This insinuates that women who aren’t cut out for traditionally cutthroat corporate careers are somehow worth much less than women who actually accomplish this. They’re pressured by their parents to prove their worth because apparently society teaches us that girls are useless and burdensome if they fail to earn a degree and get that highly coveted corporate job right out of college.
Building a life upon fear and insecurity is a guarantee of instability, yet it is marketed as the life that guarantees the most stability.
Going to college is not for everyone. Working a high-pressure yet high-paying job is not for everyone. While women do have the choice to attend college and get an office job, some women do not want this and secretly wish that they could become stay-at-home mothers, artists, gardeners, small business owners, or anything that doesn’t involve sitting at a cubicle in front of a screen for nine hours a day or taking orders from a boss who only has profit in mind (while not every corporation is like this, the majority are, and women often express how stressed out and unhappy they are for being forced to work at a job they hate in a toxic, misogynistic work environment). Many women don’t know what they want to do for a career and they’re forced to make a decision early on, and thus, they incur massive amounts of debt for no reason, other than to prove to their parents, peers, and the rest of society that they are somehow worthy of being defined as “valuable,” (which insinuates that they were valueless before they started).
What does a woman gain exactly if she amasses $100,000 in debt, gets her self-esteem kicked to the curb when she faces 300 rejections from applying to cutthroat corporate entry-level jobs that still require 5+ years of experience and a plethora of skills that were never picked up on in college, and is forced to give up on her dream of pursuing something she’s better at and intrinsically motivated to excel in?
She doesn’t gain anything.
Because scarcity is all part of this reality we live in, and due to the high supply of graduates and low demand of employees in Corporate America, if she fails to succeed in this narrow road of cutthroat conformity, she has everything to lose, her faith in herself included. The women who aren’t able to secure these scarce positions have absolutely no choice but to settle for a minimum wage job and fall further behind as their debts rack up and living expenses skyrocket. Even if a woman were to cut out Netflix, entertainment, makeup, clothes, books, dining out, coffee, organic food, pet expenses, and absolutely everything but the bare necessities, she’d still be falling behind financially.
No wonder women feel trapped, indebted, and exploited.
We need to allow women to be empowered and bold enough to say no to this outdated and dying American dream, which involves incurring debt out of peer pressure just for the sake of preserving their pride (in other words, validating their ability to conform, which in itself is utterly useless and irrelevant to a woman’s actual worth). We must allow women to forego a path that absolutely does not guarantee stability and believe in them when they say they want to do something else with their lives. Like starting their own businesses, becoming a mother, traveling overseas to serve those in need, or anything that they’re both good at and passionate about. You can’t do something you dislike, but you also can’t do something you aren’t qualified for. One must have the ability, competitive advantage, genuine interest, and a solid work ethic in order to accomplish something and let’s not shame women for choosing differently from the status quo.
Now, I’m not saying that women should not go to college. I’m simply saying that a lot of women are pressured to incur massive debt for a degree they don’t even want only to find that their prospects are extremely bleak. The women who genuinely want to study and have a career will do so, but we should not tell every woman that she must do so just to prove herself. Not every woman wants to go to college or work in a high-pressure job they have no talent or interest in.
You see, people who are naturally good at something are more likely to succeed and motivated to work hard to maintain their skill levels and also be encouraged to learn more and get better. On the other hand, people who have no natural ability whatsoever yet are forced into doing what they can’t do are going to fail, no matter how hard they work. It’s a terrible lie that anyone can be special and reach the top of this fabricated pyramid of grand wealth and ambitiousness, which defines who is worthy of praise and who is worthless as dirt.
The young women with the most potential, talent, persistence, diligence, and genuine desire to become medical professionals will find a way to make it happen and have the intrinsic motivation to succeed.
The young women with the most potential, talent, persistence, diligence, and genuine desire to become engineers, scientists, and mathematicians will find a way to make it happen and have the intrinsic motivation to succeed.
The young women with the most potential, talent, persistence, diligence, and genuine desire to become professors, researchers, and higher-education administrators will find a way to make it happen and have the intrinsic motivation to succeed.
The young women with the most potential, talent, persistence, diligence, and genuine desire to become financial analysts, businesswomen, and CEOs will find a way to make it happen and have the intrinsic motivation to succeed.
The young women with the most potential, talent, persistence, diligence, and genuine desire to become humanitarians and politicians will find a way to make it happen and have the intrinsic motivation to succeed.
But the women who have no interest in becoming these things should not be shamed into doing so because we all would do a huge disservice to them. They’d just be wasting their time, energy, livelihood, and money all to pursue a lifestyle they never even wanted in the first place.
Now some people might argue that this is an opinion of privilege and that going to college is the only way out of poverty and abusive situations, and I do agree with this. For the sake of her livelihood, a woman living under these harsh circumstances should go to college and pursue a career to support herself. However, most women wouldn’t be in this situation or have to be forced to choose between a stressful job and relying on an abusive family if the United States implemented some deep and serious social reform to better the quality of lives for women (but I do not want to pretend to have authority on this matter because I honestly don’t — let’s leave this to be discussed further by someone with more political experience and insight).
But I believe that women should not be exploited, abused, or forced to forsake her own health and sanity just for a barely living wage. Women should be free to carve their own paths and define what’s best for their holistic wellbeing, without being forced to take out loans and waste 4–5 years of their lives with no guarantee of a stable job.
A college degree is necessary for certain occupations. A woman should pursue a career only when she has demonstrated the ability to do so (actual, quantitative merit) and isn’t guilt-tripped into it. College can be valuable for those who are most qualified and well-prepared for it. It should not be mandatory for all people and most importantly, fear of disapproval must not be the primary motivator for any young person to attend college.
However, let’s all stop shaming women if they decide to forego college and Corporate America in order to pursue something else like motherhood, humanitarian work, travel, artistic endeavors, or entrepreneurship. Let’s not force women to sacrifice their mental health just to earn the approval of those who belittle them for not meeting society’s expectations.
It will be better for the economy, for women’s health, and ultimately, for all of us.