What Are You Struggling With? | HALEY
We women are too damn hard on ourselves. In fact, 60 percent of adult women have negative thoughts about themselves on a weekly basis, according to a new national online survey by TODAY and AOL. And, to make things worse, this same study found that when difficult things are happening in women’s lives, and they and the people around them are upset, they become even more self-critical and respond in a more self-critical way than men do. And yet, women are also more likely to share their pain with others, an act that Dr. Brene Brown, who conducts research on vulnerability, says takes “true courage”. So, while we women may be too hard on ourselves, we are also innately relational, and we are more likely to seek out connection and support in times of need.
I interviewed Haley, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a 33-year-old married woman and mother of a 3-year-old daughter. Haley works full time as a professional recruiter and, like so many of us, has a second full-time job as a wife and mother. I asked her this question:
“What are you struggling with most right now in this time of your life?”
Without hesitation, Haley offered to share with our readers her struggles and pain, again confirming Dr. Brown’s conclusion. Women ARE courageous and more often willing to expose the more vulnerable parts of ourselves. This is what she said:
“Most nights, as I lie in bed, trying to finally shut my brain off from the day (with the help of HGTV), the thoughts start racing: "I should have worked out today. I should have eaten better today. I should have sent that work email before I left the office. Am I a bad mom because I send my daughter to daycare five days a week? I shouldn't have let her eat mac-n-cheese and hot dogs for dinner again. Did we let her watch her iPad too much? Ok, you get the point.”
“At the start of 2017, I found myself in a funk. It all centered around how hard I was ON myself, and in return was not doing anything FOR myself. After numerous health issues in 2016 and three surgeries, we came to the realization that we would not be able to grow our family without the assistance of IVF (in-vitro fertilization). I beat myself up about my performance at work, I felt I was failing as a wife and mother, and I was failing myself. In my mind, it was all my fault. I spent hours over thinking everything I should have done differently and blaming myself.”
“One day, I finally came to the realization that nothing was going to change until I started to appreciate me for me. I needed to love the body, family, career, and friends that I have (which are all awesome and things to embrace and love, for sure). But I also began to re-examine what it means to feel worthy without external validation. That started with taking time for myself and focusing on just me. I turned off the TV and social media, where I was constantly comparing myself to others. I stopped ‘wishing’ what I looked like, or worrying what I ‘should’ be doing differently for my daughter, husband, or career. I have learned this process takes patience. But I can say, since focusing on myself, without comparing and competing with others, I finally feel alive.”
“We live in a day in time where too many of us, especially women, are extremely hard on ourselves. As we constantly compare ourselves to others, we develop images of what we want to look like and what we should do or be professionally or personally. And then we start to question if what we are doing as a person is enough. In reality, we are all doing the best we can, and the best is enough. It is more than enough.”
Thank you, Haley, for sharing a personal story with us. It gives the rest of us permission to share our personal stories, too, knowing that in doing so we are supporting other women just like us, who are there now or have been where you are now. Our shared experiences bring us all together in profound ways, no matter where we live in this big world of ours. Here at The Villa, we want you to know that you are never alone.