We’ve been aware of the gender gap, the pay gap, the leadership gap, and all of the other gaps that face women in life daily. Too often I’m working with women on their leadership or career and they fall into stereotypes of being too passionate, too quiet, too loud, too subdued, too much – and the thing they all have in common? They all have these issues pushed upon them – someone else has called them something.
On the flip side, there are a lot of choices we make personally as women – and for every choice we make, there is a loss. Here are some common choices – and losses – that women go through.
To child or not to child
This one is probably one of the most popular choices that women make – when are you having kids? Notice I wrote “when” and not “if” – that’s the real question, right? Remember that the next time you ask.
As for having children – think about what you lose having – or not having – kids. We are childfree by choice, and appreciate our freedom, our celebration of our lives with our dogs, and our little family. One of my closest friends is trying to have children so hard it hurts – and another can’t believe I would choose not to have kids. All of us think the other has a “loss” and in truth – we have what we want.
I do…or don’t?
Ah, marriage. What do you lose when you gain a spouse? If you choose to not get married, you can chase your needs, goals, career, adventures – you don’t need to check in with anyone, you can make all the decisions on dinner, living arrangements, decoration – you name it, it’s yours.
On the flip side, being single might not be the most fun – after being perpetually single for years after my first marriage ended in a nasty divorce, I loathed going on dates and being the third or fifth wheel when I was out with my friends. Also, selfishly, I hated being the only person to clean up, make dinner, decide on dinner, and more.
Career Chaser or Chooser?
Going after your career with a passion and intensity will lead to a lot of sacrifices – when I was single, I was traveling 5-7 times a month, all over the nation. Sounds fun, right? Now picture a lot of hotel time watching bad cable because your body is confused about the time, elevation and location – and you have to prep for the meetings and presentations the next day. But you can sneak out and get great food, and you are an absolute BOSS.
If you’re a bit more choosy with your time, you might not be the person that hops a plane or works those 14-hour days to advance the thing that very well may never advance. If you aren’t following a career, what are you choosing to follow? That isn’t to say you are career or nothing – but many people fill time with career or family. And many women are called upon to make that choice and accept that loss, whatever it is.
Passive or Assertive?
This one is TOUGH – when we are passive, we are that fantastic person that goes with the flow and follows along with everyone else. How wonderful to have someone so flexible! But what about what you want? That question isn’t often asked if you’re always choosing to be the person that just rolls with it.
At the same time, asserting yourself as a woman means you’re advocating for your wants and needs – but – speaking up will get you deemed difficult in a lot of circles. What do you lose when you keep yourself first?
In the end, all of these decisions have to be made by YOU – understanding all possible losses. Just don’t lose sight of your gain.