In order to have It All, you must want It All. You must read all the magazines that talk about having It All, so that you learn how to get It All. But what if you realize that you want a small portion of It All?
Elissa Strauss’s essay for Salon, “I’m Not Ambitious and That’s Okay,” takes on the Sandberg-Slaughter force field by saying that despite all their instructions, she’s basically as chill as she wants to be.
She’s got a kid and some work and some life-partner stuff going on, in some sort of balance. But when she was pregnant with her child, she read a lot of books and articles by people commanding her to lean a certain way or demanding that the American working world change in a certain way. She read a lot about women doing a lot of things:
When I read that four in ten working mothers always feel like they are in a rush, I can’t help suspecting that it is to some degree due to this instinct [to measure up to our peers]. Busyness, particularly for those who think of themselves as peers of high-achieving women, has become a new status symbol, a more potent signifier of success than a luxury handbag or a week in the Caribbean.
But then … she was like, you know what? I don’t want all of that stuff. Lots of women don’t want all of that stuff. Second-best is fine. These expectations about It All are bananas.
While very much telling her own story and justifying her own work-life-love balance, Strauss is still playing into the It All framework by rejecting it. But it’s generally a nice attitude she’s got going on. Let’s all chill for a bit and not let other people tell you how much you should be striving for. You’re your own you. You define your own It All.