The old saying “It’s a Man’s World” may not be so true. It is a different era as ladies climb new heights. If you doubt it, consider statistics from the Department of Labor released in 2009, which revealed that women comprise 46.8 % of the total U.S. labor force. It gets better: the largest percentage of employed women, at 40 %, worked in management, professional, and related occupations, while another 32 % worked in sales and office occupations.
In short, there is no doubt that women are making work a bigger part of their lives, which means a very full plate for the lady that has both a career and a partner in her life. As this becomes more commonplace, the question to consider is whether it is indeed possible to have both a successful career and relationship.
For some, there is no doubt. Take Katya H., 30, Chicago, a corporate public relations executive married to a lawyer. As you would probably imagine, their demanding careers can make things difficult. However, as Katya notes, success in both their relationship and their careers can happen but not without a little work.
“Yes, it’s possible to have it all, but don’t look for anyone to hand it to you. I’ve been career-focused all my life, from environmental advocacy for NGOs to corporate PR-and none of my jobs have been 9-to-5. I haven’t historically been able to give that up, but when you find someone who’s right, I found that two things happen: one, you have to stop insisting on everything ‘your way’ – including the way your time is spent. That insistence may’ve gotten you where you are today, but if you’re not going to accommodate someone else, that person’s not going to stick around. Secondly, the guy is willing to support your career rather than replace it. It takes a lot of humility on his part, and I’m thankful for it every day.”
Katya also shared some insight based on advice she has received.
“The best relationship advice I ever got was: if you give 100 % to the relationship, you will always have 100 %,” said Katya. “If you give 50 % and expect the other person to give 50 %, you’re going to have instances when you come up short. It’s a lot of work, but for me, it’s that or be single for the rest of your life. And I wasn’t happy with that option.”
While Katya’s story paints one picture, Elissa C., 30, Chicago had a trickier journey, marrying her husband at 22, and having her daughter less than a year later. Since contemplating divorce, she has recommitted herself to her family, realizing that she wanted to have them and keep her demanding career as an investigator.
“What I realized about the idea of ‘having it all’ is that it is less about ‘having it all’ and more about ‘having it all work for you’. I have taken all the aspects of my life and made a crazy puzzle. Sometimes I have to file down a corner of the ‘career’ piece in order to fit it with the ‘family’ piece… But no matter how much I have to work to make the puzzle come together, when it’s done I realize one thing, my mom did the same thing and her kids and husband turned out alright.”
While these sound great, Judi, 28, New York, is in a long-term relationship and admits that while she wishes relationships with her friends were better, strength is key.
She said “Whether you can have it all is defined by how aggressive you are. If you want to have it then you should be able to, as long as you are strong and believe in both elements. I wish I could improve the relationships with my friends and I do the best I can but aside from that, I am happy with where I am.”
Ultimately, having it all depends on your point of view. However, as long as both parties are committed, supportive of each other, and willing to give a little, then maybe that saying is true: a woman really CAN have it all.
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