Society & Culture

The women who have it all? Yeah, I’m not one of them


The women who have it all? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m not one of them

As far as having it all goes, I’m quite sure I probably don’t have any of it.

I’m not in a relationship. I don’t have a fancy job (I’m just freelancing at the moment, which can’t even really be considered a job). I’m not famous. I’m not beautiful. I’m not a perfect size whatever; heck, I can’t even get shoes to fit. I don’t own my own house. The car I drive is not mine… I imagine a lot of young girls might look at me, aged 30-something, and hope they don’t end up where I am when they’re my age.

But hang on, before I start completely hating on myself, let’s have a look again at this “having it all” thing. And ask: What is this “all” anyway? Is it material wealth? Status? Things? People?

Because whenever we sit there enviously eyeing up the lives of other women, what is it that we’re actually mentally totting up? Her handsome husband, her 2.5 gorgeous children, her high flying career in a shiny skyscraper, her branded wardrobe, her perfectly shaped body, her bendy abilities in any yoga class, her impressive bookshelf, her intricate knowledge of human rights in the Middle East… and most of all, her astounding ability to juggle it all, always happily, always gracefully

But pah. Call me a cynic but I don’t believe that woman really exists. I’ve never met her. I don’t believe there is such a thing as “having it all” because that “all” is just not possible.

If we’re intent on looking for something we’re lacking, there will always be something we don’t have, always something that someone else has which is better, shinier, more happy-making than what we have.

Let me explain. Let’s pretend that imaginary woman I described above has a name. Let’s call her Jane. Now let’s compare ourselves to Jane.

While I’m single, I long for a loving relationship with a gorgeous man like Jane’s husband. While I’m childless, I’m jealous of the smart, adorable little children Jane has. While I’m freelancing, I dream of what it must be like to march purposefully into boardroom meetings every day like Jane does.

Now let’s flip the script. Let’s pretend we’re Jane, having it all; let’s pretend we’re Jane, looking back at me — single, childless, working odd, freelance jobs. And I might imagine that she thinks to herself how much she might would like to have back those evenings as a single girl, when she was accountable to no one and could go out, do whatever she wanted and get home as late as she liked. She loves her children, but she also longs for just few days again when she doesn’t have to be responsible for anyone but herself. She dreams of how freeing it must be, as a freelancer, to wake up at 10 in the morning and flop around the house working in her pyjamas.

It can go on like this for any and everything. The point is, of course, that wanting is always more fun than actually having.

We don’t envy the woman who has it all because we envy her; what’s really at work is our lust for the things she has that we don’t.

For as long as we’re having a conversation about “having it all”, we necessarily and automatically create a comparative space of “having nothing at all” or, at the very least “having not enough”. We will always be lacking something, as long as we continue to see our own lives as incomplete.

But see, there’s always going to be something we don’t have. For example, having Kate Moss’s super skinny frame and Beyoncé’s curves are mutually exclusive events. You can’t have both, you can’t have it all. You just can’t.

And you know what? That’s really, totally, terribly okay.

Because there are a million things that you do have, and whether or not someone else wishes they had what you had or they don’t care a jot, it is still entirely yours.

Instead of always hankering after having it all, why don’t we try shifting the focus to celebrating what we already do have?

So instead of envying another woman’s relationship, I will enjoy my singledom and all that comes with it – the time, the kind of freedom you don’t get while in a relationship, sleeping diagonally on the bed etc. Instead of resenting her high flying, fame-filled career, I will relish the independence of being a freelance writer – the perfect, precious space I am afforded to write (which is my biggest love so what more can I ask for, really?), the quiet time, being the boss of my own hours. Instead of hating myself for not being able to do yoga the way she can, I will go dancing to my favourite tunes instead, remembering that everyone has their own best ways of enjoying movement and strength.

Given all that, I’ve come to realise that I don’t need to worry about “having it all” because I already have it. And so do you, and you and you. See it, love it, celebrate it.


{Photo: Sarah’s Sketchbook}

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Jamie Khoo

Jamie Khoo

Jamie is the one-(wo)man-band and founder of a beauty full mind. She's loved writing and words from the moment she started to read, and has written plenty for magazines such as Elle and Time Out Kuala Lumpur, and websites such as elephant journal. Sick of being told by mainstream media and society what she should think of as "beautiful" or not, she started this website to challenge normalised beauty ideals and create new definitions and conversations. Follow her beauty and body journey on Instagram @breatheitallinworkitallout

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