Each May celebrates Mental Health Awareness Month. In 2020, a statistic declared that one in five American adults live with mental illness. And after two years in a global pandemic, that 2020 statistic is not decreasing. Now more than ever, it is essential that we take time to care for our minds.
Women in particular have been forced to bear multiple heavy loads under the guise of “having it all”–like working a full-time job while trying to be a good mother, friend, and/or partner. Sheryl Sandberg, a graduate of Harvard Business School and COO of Facebook, grew to notoriety in the early 2010s for her touting of the phrase, “Lean In.” Sandberg argued that women hold themselves back by not tackling more opportunities. But, as Michelle Obama noted on her book tour for Becoming: “...that whole ‘you can have it all’–nope, not at the same time; that’s a lie.”
Women attempt to “do it all” alone, without ever asking for help for fear of seeming weak. But women need support; women are social creatures by nature, and it does take a village. Many mental health conditions affect more women than men, not to mention conditions like postpartum, which only affect the already tired mother. It is necessary for women to feel comfortable advocating for themselves and their needs, and it is imperative that women create a network of support for themselves.
The fact is, we cannot do it alone and we must stop telling ourselves that we should. Here are three examples of negative self-talk that must be thrown out the window.
1. Women should be self-sufficient
It is not a fault to depend on other people. To this point, who knows a man who is completely self-sufficient? Men depend on others arguably more often than women; particularly the most successful men. Women, on the other hand, are pitted against each other, fighting for a seat at the Man’s table. But, this fight is antiquated. We as women can all succeed, especially if we do it together. Women have the option to create their own table. We don’t have to play the same old patriarchal game in order to succeed. Women can flourish in their own right, in their own spaces. We all have different roles to play in each other’s lives, and we must help each other along the way.
2. We each have the same 24 hours.
Each person’s day will look different based on their set of circumstances. Privilege and access plays a large role in what one is able to accomplish day by day. Beyoncé, for instance, can helicopter from location to location without breaking the bank, while most people in New York City depend on public transportation. Beyoncé can travel from Brooklyn to the Bronx in a matter of minutes, while the same trip for the average New Yorker can take almost two hours. Some people can afford Uber to work, wherein they can tackle phone calls and emails with use of 5G wireless networks. But those on the subway are service-less, and therefore, handicapped. It is important that we not shame ourselves for the speed at which we are progressing and that we respect our journeys. We must, however, use our resources and not be afraid to ask for the help we need.
3. “They can do it, why can’t I?”
We are products of nature and nurture, and are, therefore, all different. It is wrong to expect any two individuals to accomplish the same thing in the same way. Comparing oneself to others is a recipe for resentment and bitterness. True success comes when one loves what they do and how they do it. We are diverse beings, and will work/achieve in varying patterns. We must ask for the help we need, and know when to take a break. If women take care of themselves, greatness will follow.
Resources that can help:
The Memo: https://www.myweeklymemo.com/
Working Moms Against Guilt: https://www.workingmomsagainstguilt.com/