it seems like every girl of this generation must go through a three step process when thinking about their career.
First. The encouragement stage: In this stage the young girl is encouraged to apply to college, to travel, to be whatever she wants to be. Scholarships are easy to get, even though girls now make up a larger percentage of undergrads than boys. This is a stage without limitation. A young woman sees successful women like Hillary Clinton and doctors and professors, and only senses the “up” direction for her career. Settling down and having children are looked down upon – you are bombarded with messages from your high school health teacher, the media, etc. that getting pregnant would be a disaster. College’s hookup culture doesn’t give you much practice actually having relationships. Your career starts off well and then…
Second. The “intentionally dumbing down” stage. This might be controversial. In my case, there was a point in my mid-20s where I realized that I would likely want a family, and that having a family would require someone to be at home or work flexible hours, and that I would rather work at home than wear khaki pants in a cubicle. I realized that men really don’t like to date women who are more successful than themselves. That women don’t like to date men who are less ambitious than themselves.
And so by my late 20s, I tempered my ambition. I didn’t have to, but I did. It seemed that aiming for the CEO position and a working relationship just didn’t really fit.I’m not sure what other women do, but the high number of blogging stay-at-home moms with fancy educations and previous careers likely confirms that this “intentional dumbing down” phase is anecdotally common.
It is less talked about amongst single women, but I’ve heard echos from my fellow bloggers about this effect, too. The passion for that career from your early 20s is a shadow. The real world’s tedium exists, and many job environments suck your soul dry with the greyness of it all. But also, there is some hope that this isn’t actually your life.
Third. The realization stage. This is your life. I haven’t hit this entirely, but this stage involves coming to terms with the idea that you won’t necessarily be financially or emotionally stable enough to actually give up that job that you put the brakes on. Your family needs you to work for money. You get a divorce. Your kids make it to kindergarten. You decide to have a kid on your own. Or, if you are a single girl like me, the family didn’t materialize and now your work is all you have so you probably should love it and be great at it.
Sound at all familiar?