I happened to come across this New York Times article (For Girls, It’s Be Yourself, and Be Perfect, Too), and man, did it take me back to the “good ol’ days.”
The article features two high school senior girls in an affluent Boston suburb who are part of a group of “amazing girls”—defined as such because they are “high achieving, ambitious and confident.” They are “girls who do everything”: AP classes, volunteering, varsity sports, extra extracurriculars. They also feel like they’re never doing enough, and that looking hot is just as (or more) important than being smart.
Amazing girls will pressure themselves to do whatever it takes to get into amazing schools, which in their minds translate to amazing careers, and to eventually reach the pinnacle of success—an amazing balance of family, work, and life. Sound familiar?
The lives and words of these two girls, Esther and Colby, really hit home for me. In high school, I was obsessed with success. I was a girl who did everything. AP and honors classes. President of the Latin club. Marching band and jazz band. Drama club. Mu Alpha Theta (math geek society—and I hated math). National Honors Society. Swim team (freshman year—I was the worst).
Why was I such a high-achieving superteen (or just a total geek)? I could see the path stretched out before me, and in my mind, I had to do it all to get it all. Good college = good job. Good job = good pay and more opportunities. Someday, I figured, my achievements would pay off.
Clearly, these girls in the Times article are supermoms (or “Alpha Moms“) in training, just like I was. They pressure themselves to be the best at everything, impress everyone, and think “living in the moment” is something you do when you’re retired. They think it’s possible to “have it all” (whatever that means) and figure if they have every advantage in life, they are required to take it.
I’m happy to say I’ve calmed down somewhat since high school. I don’t feel ubercompetitive just for the sake of winning. I know what’s most important to me, and try to prioritize my life accordingly.
But I must admit, reading that article exhausted me, because I sometimes feel like I’m still a geeky high school student. Never getting enough sleep. Never getting high enough grades. Never doing enough. I hope to teach my daughter to have more fun and do less achieving. I don’t want to raise another “supermom.”
Does this topic resonate with you? Here’s another post you might enjoy about the supermom phenomenon.