Dictionary.com defines Girlboss as: a woman, especially a young woman, who is ambitious and successful in her career. This term became synonymous with a lot of nonsense drilled into the psyche of my generation, which to put it mildly, encouraged all women to grow up, go to college, get a degree (or two or three), go out into the workforce, and sacrifice everything because nothing is more important than your independence and a career you pour your heart and soul into. Except, this was really, really, bad advice. I believe it is the reason so many women I know are burnt out, uninspired, depressed, and find themselves searching endlessly to fill a sort of hole inside that they can't quite explain. Well let me explain it to you in the way I experienced it, that "hole" I just referred to, is speaking to your natural female instincts and the way most women are organically wired. Not only is humankind as a whole not destined to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day - eat, sleep, work, repeat - but women are especially not designed for this life. Albeit, there may be some women that think they are, and that's fine. But find me a truly happy woman who has nothing but her career to show for it in middle age, and I'll be shocked, because I've never met one.
When I was growing up, I was influenced by a lot of the female empowerment movement, encouraging women to be educated, join the workforce at levels equal to her male counterparts, and never rely on a man for security. That is all good and well, except we overshot the mark now. To imply that women will be satisfied in life while only being defined by their work is foolish, and sets a dangerous precedent. True fulfillment will never, and should never, come from your place of employment. And I say that as someone who has spent their life building and running my own businesses. I have experienced work at the highest levels of stress and accomplishment, working completely and totally for myself since I was 22 years old. I did all the things I was "supposed" to do. I had the big office with a view. I had staff, the vast majority of whom were men. I had the accolades, the press, the speaking engagements, the notoriety, the earnings. But none of that moved the needle for me. It's hard to explain, because when you're in it, you convince yourself that this is the way it's supposed to be. Or worse, when you're working toward it, you convince yourself that happiness is just on the other side of that next checkpoint. It's not.
I genuinely feel that I was brainwashed - by my school, culture, and society as a whole. I think the feminist mentality is the worst thing that has happened to women in modern times, and it needs to stop. Not only is there nothing wrong with aspiring to have a family, but it's normal. And it's okay if this manifests a little differently for everyone. I was a late bloomer. I had a stable relationship and all the makings of a happy life, and had a wall up as high as it could be against the traditional values of marriage and children. I was a proud career woman and refused to let anything creep into my psyche that was contradictory to that. And moreover, I was a #GirlBoss, playing with the big boys in the very male-dominated music industry. But then I started becoming acutely aware of the women around me, a few years ahead of where I was. They were largely miserable, with a professionally-robotic smile plastered onto their faces. They saw years of their youth sacrificed to educational institutions and then corporations, which oftentimes came with monetary growth and other means of pride. But they were lonely. They were getting older. They were completely and totally ruptured inside. Some of them got away and put all of their efforts into making up for lost time, and others got tossed and tattered like shells tumbling through the ocean waves as they break ashore. Life is hard enough as it is, why oh why would we encourage our young women to forgo all of their natural tendencies to build and enjoy a life with their family?
The women that have never been afforded any of the beauty of a traditional life have it bad, but not worse than the ones that straddle the fence. The ones that juggle the stresses of a full-time job, commuting to and from work, while trying to muster up the strength and patience for their children when they get home, and lastly, their husband whom they seldomly get to spend time with, outside of what often can feel like a household partnership at the end of it all. Where's the spark? What happened to that feeling you got when you were first together? It's because you've got nothing left to give, sis. It's too much. The pressures of life are eating you alive from the inside out, and it's causing destruction all around you. And you think things like "well this is just life" or "marriage is work" - you resort to putting your kids in childcare, to be raised by strangers while you slave away, making just enough to pay for the help in the first place. What's the point of it all? Does it really make sense? It lends itself to a lot of soul searching and deep thinking. A life without love is meaningless. A life without the love of a companion and, if you are so fortunate, children, is nothing at all. GirlBossing, in reality, does not create adequate space for any of these things. There is nothing wrong with having something that is your own that you take pride in, namely becoming educated in a field you are passionate about and finding a vocation you enjoy. But that is not the end-all, be-all, and it's time we stop treating it that way. It's not a competition between women and men. A boss is a boss. Going against the grain in anything can be cool and fun. But doing it at the expense of true happiness and fulfillment is stupid.
What is truly aspirational? Building a life that allows you to have it all, by your own personal definition. Designing your days around the things that bring you joy. Not having someone tell you what to do, where to be, and when your next direct deposit will hit so you can continue the vicious cycle of trying to afford your life, and maybe a vacation once a year if you're lucky. Changing your life can be risky. But there's nothing riskier than changing nothing at all. Women deserve the gift of a happy home they can be the "boss" of, a husband that looks forward to seeing them, and children that are brought up in all the ways that are important to them. Why not focus on this and then weave in your interests in a way that is conducive to these most important aspects of your life? It is not without work, but it is not impossible. After shedding my "GirlBoss" prison sentence, I reawakened the parts of me that had been suppressed and live a life more fulfilling than I ever knew was possible. But it all starts with you, and regaining control of your priorities, your instincts, and listening to your inner voice. "Having it all" is a choice, and it's about balance. But once you find it, you'll know that that is the type of female empowerment you've been seeking all along.