Opting in, out, and otherwise

I don't know. Punch a shark?
I don’t know. Punch a shark?

A group of friends and I had an online discussion last week about work-life balance. The impetus was some comments by a friend of a friend that rubbed my friend the wrong way. In a nutshell, the offending guy’s comments implied that work-life balance is not so hard, and if you don’t have, you’re doing life wrong. This guy, and other guys like him, have wives who do not work outside the home and manage the household duties and childcare. Is it POSSIBLE that that’s why they find achieving balance to be so much easier than the rest of us? (Spoiler alert: yes.)

Some of our thoughts included:

  1. Household duties are often invisible and thankless
  2. Having someone to manage these duties is a privilege that this ding-dong is obviously taking for granted
  3. For whatever, reason, men don’t worry about whether or not they’re prioritizing incorrectly to the extent that women do
  4. It’s hard, especially for parents

I found the discussion interesting in a mostly anthropologic way, since I’ve opted out of a lot of the choices my friends have made. No kids, no house, no really nice furniture, no partner, no advanced schooling, no career ladder. I’m practically Roger Miller in the song King of the Road compared to most of my friends, who are admittedly a talented group of intelligent women.  I don’t feel the pressure of being measured against my peers because I’m using a whole different yardstick.

Is this a great option for most women? No, it’s terrible for most women. I am missing out on a lot. But I don’t miss the things I’m missing out on, so that’s cool. And I’m sure they didn’t want to go to Korea or run a business (however half-assedly) as much as I did, anyway.

I remember another conversation shortly after my divorce. I asked my friend, “When am I ever going to be good enough?” And she replied, “Uh…you’re good enough right now.” And I was like, but I’m SO not! But I was, and I am, and I don’t feel that way anymore most of the time. Even though I’ve had way more failures in the years since that conversation.

It’s been a real project to learn who I am, what’s important to me and what isn’t, and to let go of what I don’t, and to realize that I can’t have everything and don’t want it anyway. I’m sure it will continue to change throughout my life. Some people learn this a lot younger than I do, but I don’t know, I’m slow or something. If reincarnation is real and we’re gifted with the wisdom of our past lives, then I’m a new soul fresh out of the package. Hey, it’s cool, you have to play the hand you’re dealt.

So, what is my point?

  • I want to know what I’m choosing.
  • I want to be aware that my choices are the best choices for me. If someone else chooses something else, they can make that decision for themselves, too.
  • I want to be aware of any privilege that make my choices possible, as well as any obstacles that will make them more difficult.
  • If people don’t like any choice I make that doesn’t harm anyone else, I’m going to give their opinion the respect it deserves. If it’s a trusted friend or family member, I may take their advice or not. Anyone else…pffft.

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