She sent me a frantic message. ‘It’s too much. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t bear it. I just want to cry and break stuff and get away from here’. My heart sank. Coming from her, all of hell must have opened up that day. Sister girl is the epitome of the superwoman, the supermom. The unbreakable, unflinching woman that other women aspire to be. But on that Sunday, she had a classic meltdown. Meltdowns are oftentimes good. I’ve had a few and they always work out to be a catalyst for change.
I responded right away. ‘What’s going on” I asked. It was like she was longing to hear that question. She let it all out. It was quick, raw, vulnerable, painful. But it was also tremendously therapeutic, she later told me. Opening up and sharing her imperfections and struggles caused her to look at solutions. It made her realize that she needed to come up with ways to deal with the stress of managing all the things she struggled with.
Overtime she made some changes. She called on family for help and said no to those who put pressure on her. She cut back on being everything to everyone and took care of herself first. But the most important thing she did was recognize that there’s no shame in needing and asking for help. These steps helped her on her journey as a superwoman in recovery. And she’s finding that letting go of those societal expectations can be a liberating thing.
Superwoman, supermom and their cousin, super-wife. Super lies and myths women go for. These super bitches are the impossible and unattainable standard that many women try to hold themselves to. I don’t know where and when we as women felt we had to be super anything. As if being woman wasn’t a weight in itself. Yet so many of us fall prey to the societal pressure to be some super something and run ourselves into the ground trying to look like we have all our shit together all the time. We pretend managing home, career and family is tireless and effortless. We act like we don’t know what overwhelm and burnout look like and we don’t need anyone’s help. We turn up our noses at women who are vulnerable enough to show they are struggling. We harm our bodies by pushing too hard and we damage our self-esteem when we miss the lofty mark. We bought the lie of super – hook, line and sinker.
We lie to ourselves and in so doing we perpetuate the superwoman myth and remain trapped. Somewhere along the line we believed that if we let our guard down, and let our struggle and vulnerability show we’d be perceived as not being enough. Newsflash, you are enough. Just as you are in this very moment. Pause and let that soak in.
Move to the beat of your own drum. Own YOUR rhythm. You know your life, your capabilities, your situation. Don’t buy into the lie that you need to be perfect. I don’t care what a celeb or your neighbor or someone else tries to sell you. You need to understand that you don’t have to embrace the need to be anything but the best you can be. Not perfect or super. Ditch the drive to be perfect. Because that is what it’s really about. A pursuit of perfection. Here’s another newsflash – you’re not perfect. Neither am I. And that’s not a bad thing.
Carlana Charles is the visionary and editor-in-chief of FemmePowered. She is a womanist, writer, speaker, story midwife and facilitator of meaningful and engaging conversations. When she is not working in or on FemmePowered, she can be found resting, baking, reading or scribbling furiously in her journal whilst sipping wine or coffee, sometimes both at the same time. She is currently working on her first book and hopes to release it in September 2017.