Posted by: hillarydiehl11 | March 20, 2014

For this blog entry, I’m going to highlight two conflicting quotes that I came across online, which illustrate the personal conflicts that I have with the “work-life balance” concept. 

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The first is a Marilyn Monroe quote that reads: “A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” This really speaks to the half of me that wants to be a mom when I’m older, and have a large family with a loving husband, as many women do. However, it’s conflicting because I don’t want to be criticized for it, which is why I am hesitant to persue this route. I’m also hesitant because I don’t think I can be completely fulfilled without a career or work. This quote makes it sound so easy to prioritize the “life” part of the “work-life balance”, but I don’t know if Marilyn Monroe was really thinking about the expectations that women have of other women. Of course, it would be nice if we could all do whatever we wanted without other people looking at us funny. But, what if I get to a top level in my career field, and then finally have kids, and am forced to opt out? Will people talk to me in a condescending way, like they did with Slaughter, according to her article? I don’t know if I could handle that, and I don’t know if I could ever really be fulfilled without chasing my dreams as far as they will take me, before I settle down. This is a big decision that a lot of women are going to have to face some day, unless they decide to just not have a family. 

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This leads me to my second quote, and the other half of my conflict. Sheryl Sandberg writes: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”. This is empowering, yet it also makes me really question myself. When I wrote earlier and said that I want to settle down one day and have a family, was I actually just saying that sort of thing because I am afraid of what will happen if I don’t? I know I’m expected to do that sort of thing, but maybe it’s not what I will want. Maybe I won’t care if I have something to curl up with on a cold night…or maybe that something really will be my work. I think women are afraid. I think we are afraid to do something that isn’t the “norm” of typical women (as I said), which makes us afraid of what might happen to us if we do want to prioritize work over our families. In this article from the Huffington Post, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/05/work-life-balance-women_n_4905221.html), I have found a new perspective on how I view the work-life balance problem. Women shouldn’t be the only ones who are “afraid”, because the work-life balance should be a problem that EVERYONE deals with: not just women. I loved their ideals that we shouldn’t just push this on women, but also push the idea on MEN and call them out for it. Of course, I think there is not just 1 simple and easy solution to this, but it is a good point regardless that gives me a little hope.

So, to close up, I just felt like these quotes were fitting with what we have been talking about in class the past few days, and sparked some personal thought on the topic within myself. I know this is more personal than some of the other blog posts, but I’d love to hear how some of my classmates are also struggling with the concept of the “work-life balance”, since it will inevitably affect us all one day (regardless of whether we are male or female). 

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Responses

  1. I like how you talk about priorities in this post. Both of these conflicts are something I face as well, but I feel that I look at them differently. In my opinion, prioritizing is vital. I will have a career when I graduate college and I will have a family somewhere down the road -it is just going to be a balancing act. I feel that I have been afforded and education and to not utilize my education by joining the work force would be selling myself short. I also believe that it is in my life plan to have a family. Like we have talked about in class judgement will come from people because of my desires, but in all honesty does it really matter? People will judge me no matter what my life decisions are: a family and career, just a family, just a career -even if I juggle both perfectly. I really like the quote by Sheryl Sandberg: “What I tell everyone, and I really do for myself is, I have a long-run dream, which is I want to work on stuff that I think matters.” If women or men are able to forget this fear, this feeling of inadequacy and pressure put on our shoulders by society than it will be easier to do and to “work on stuff that I [we] think matters” -whether that be a family, a career, both, or neither.

  2. Hillary, I really like the two quotes you provided. I agree with what Bethany said. People are going to judge you no matter what you do. I know this is something really hard for me to deal with, because naturally we all want to be liked and seen as a positive role model, especially in a leadership position. I think our society really needs to work on respecting people for their own person decisions, such as leaving the workforce to have children. Like we have discussed in class, women are their own worst enemies. Yes, men are just as bad when criticizing the work-life balance that some women take on, but the respect needs to start somewhere, so why not with the women?

    I really like how the post discusses men in the work-life balance. I, too, want to have a family and a loving husband. With this being said, I want my future husband to be just as committed to balancing the work-home life as I am. I think it is really important for our next generation of children to see both parents working on this balancing act, not just one.

  3. I think these two quotes kind of perfectly sum up both arguments about the family vs career debate. They’re both valid concerns and is something I’ve recently begun to question. I think Bethany makes a good point about prioritizing. I agree that it is important and is something everyone has to take into consideration. I also think that scares a lot of people. Nobody wants to say/think that they’re prioritizing their job over their children/family (or maybe vice versa, in some cases), but sometimes you have to during certain times in your life. I think if people understood that prioritizing doesn’t mean not caring about something, but actually caring about many things, it might be easier to “have it all” or achieve whatever someone’s goal is.

  4. This is something EVERY young man and woman needs to read and realize the importance of these tough choices! I, too, believe that this is a difficult choice that everyone will one day face. Personally, I am one of the women who is constantly afraid of not fulfilling the “norm” of being a great mother, and also a person with a strong career. Maybe a career is my definition of “having it all.” The second quote above really speaks to me, because us women are SO afraid of going against the norm that we ultimately just try to do what society tells us is right. If I wasn’t afraid of what society would say, or my family and friends, who knows – I might just be a surgeon whose life is the hospital. Maybe I can’t curl up with that on a cold night, but it would fulfill me nonetheless.

  5. I really like that your post is about priorities in the future because almost all of us are getting to that final year of school when we have to start making career decisions. The balancing act is daunting to me because if I do become a doctor, then I have to find a balance between work and family with it always going to be uneven. My mom says the balance gets better with time because you establish yourself and that you need to find a place to work that won’t judge you if you leave to see a school assembly or take your kid to the doctor. Where my mother works now, they encourage all their teachers to see their kid’s sports and assemblies, take their kids to the doctor, or even stay home with their kids. So yes it’s a balancing act and you may be judged, but you need to find a place that supports you as well as a significant other that can do the same.

  6. I really like both of these quotes. And I also agree that there will always be judgement. I think that’s part of why people are afraid. It is not just a fear of failure, but a fear of what other people will think of you. Personally, one thing I’ve really tried to work on is not caring about what other people think. I know that’s much easier said than done, but we should try not to let that stop us from living life the way we want to. Your family dynamic is no one’s business but your own.

    As far as the work-life balance with men and women, I completely agree with that as well. Both partners should share the burden of making sacrifices in one area of your life in order to spend more time on something else. That can be spending less time with kids to be at work, or spending less time at work to be with kids. If someone is willing to not have a career and stay at home with the kids, that is fine too. But there has to be an equal amount of responsibility between the parents. At my high school, there were two teachers who were married with a two year old daughter. Whenever she was sick, it was always the mother who took off of work. I don’t remember the father ever missing work when she was sick. This is an example of how responsibility for the kids always seems to fall to the mom.

  7. This post made me think of another quote, which I have also seen quoted in the Wilson book before, which is: “You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” Basically, what this is saying is that no matter what path you choose to take, there is always going to be at least one person who doesn’t agree with it. Which is also why I think many women are afraid of what they choose to devote the majority of their time to because they know that there will be disapproval on either side. But, I liked how you and the article mentioned that this is not just a struggle that women face. I definitely think that men bare the burden of work-life balance, as well. Especially men who may be stay-at-home dads and are forced to take on multiple roles at once. I also think that many of us are afraid of not doing what society expects of us. We see all of these other people doing incredible things career-wise and then we wonder what is wrong with us if that’s not what we want. Or on the flip side, we see all of these great parents making memories with their children and then we think we are crazy if we don’t have a desire to have children ourselves. I think we are afraid of ultimately making the wrong choice down the line. But, like others have said in previous comments, it is about prioritizing between what you value. However, I also think people should ultimately do what makes them happy. It is possible to achieve balance between multiple things, but I think you just have to make sure you are actually enjoying the things that you are committing yourself to. You shouldn’t choose a certain path just because you are afraid of what others might say if you don’t. Work-life balance seems to be a subjective concept, related to personal choice.

  8. I love this post. Especially after everything we have been reading lately. I could not agree more with you on every aspect. I want a career and fully intend on having one, yet I also want a family, a big family that will force me to take time off to take care of them. For the longest time I thought I would have no issue doing this; I would be able to work, take some time off and raise a family, and then go back to work. But as we have read more and more about the work/life balance, I am TERRIFIED. What I want does not even remotely seem possible and that terrifies me. Why is it that it is so hard for women to find such a good balance. Why is it that American’s look down on the way we field child care and maternity leave?
    But as everyone has mentioned, it will be a prioritizing/balancing act for us. We will have to find our way around a career and family as have so many women before us, and it is possible, I just wish it wasn’t so difficult. I think it is also important to point out the husband’s role in all this. I hope that we all inspiring to do so much and have a career and family have a supportive partner in this. I think it is damn near impossible to do alone. But hopefully it will all work out.
    As others have talked about, women will be judged no matter what we do and it is imperative that we don’t let us stop us from doing what we are so passionate about doing, whether is be career or family or both.


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