I’ve had a phrase knocking around my head for the past few days, the past few weeks, really. Somewhere between scraping eggs benedict off of yet another plate or forcing myself up the treadmill one more time, the idea smashed into my brain with the force of a freight train. Try as I might to ask myself where it came from, and what led up to it, it remained so definite and so inarguable that I couldn’t excuse it.
“They lied when they said we could have it all”.
From there, rather than falling into the temptation of using alienating terms and pushing off the responsibility on society like I’m prone to do as a millennial, I admitted my part in the perpetuating the fantasy:
“We lied when we said we could have it all”.
I’m not sure at what point I bought into it, this “you can have it all” lifestyle, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. I know I’m not because I watch people, almost as much as I watch myself.
I know we’ve embraced it because we smile and tell everyone we’re happy and in love, and it’s been however many months, and we still feel justified in harmless texts from that coworker or “best guy friend” and meaningful smiles exchanged with the barista who’s definitely more interested in you than how much whip you want on your chai latte.
I know we’ve embraced it because we reason that picking up a second job or taking on more hours. We may be tired—exhausted—we may still be in school, it may mean less time with our kids, but we “need the money”. We can do this. One job is good, two jobs are better… we’re young. One more sip of coffee, one more sigh as we roll out the door.
I know we’ve embraced it because women are shamed for having a career, over a family and judged for focusing on their families because that somehow makes them “repressed” and a victim of gender inequality. In fact, the best arrangement would be doing it all—after all, you owe it to yourself, girls.
That’s not even touching the amount of debt we put ourselves into to have and to get, but I think we’ve all recognized that amassing more material possessions isn’t where it’s at. There are things we can amass, collect and compromise and break ourselves in two for: accomplishments, commitments, prestige, and position.
The entitlement syndrome is more than our selfies and iPhones. It goes deeper than that.
What if I told you that we don’t “deserve it all”?
That just because something is attainable, doesn’t make it beneficial? (I get no points for originality on this one, by the way)
What are we willing to sacrifice?
What are we willing to prioritize?
What areas of our lives are we comfortable seeing suffer as we try to do and be and have everything?
I’ve never really asked myself these questions, but the answers don’t come to me as easy as I’d like.