Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Thinking out loud: I want the whole story

Photo credit to Giacomo Ferroni 

Reading through the blurbs of each fabulous woman in the NEXT Women of the Year 2018 nominees list I was wondering why I wasn’t grabbed by their stories. Every one of them is doing amazing work, often catalysed by a disruptive event in their lives. All good journalistic fodder right? So why wasn’t I riveted?

Like many, I found myself at a distance from those women’s stories. There was no context.

Did they have the opportunity to go to uni? Did they have the fall back of a supportive mum and dad and family home to move back to when they were starting out? Did they have the money for startup fund, or access to it through their family or personal networks? Can they afford to outsource domestic tasks so they can focus on all the fab creative stuff? If their kid is sick, can someone else cancel meetings and stay home, or cook a meal when you’re too fried to fry an egg?

I am not undermining their accomplishments. Not at all. My heart soared reading their bios. The world is a better place through these women’s work and I am a fierce advocate for finding your passion and working for positive social change. I just want the whole picture.

We are told we can do it all. Social media feeds us collated images of success divorced from the reality, we see the pinnacles of that success and not the years of hard work that has gone into getting there. We celebrate the fruits but keep the labour and our support structures quiet and hidden. I want role models and people who inspire me who are succeeding and being validated publicly who have the same challenges I do.

Years ago when blogging was in its infancy, there was a blogger I admired hugely who often wrote about the hardships of parenting her brood and juggling her business and blog. I measured myself against what I saw in her posts. Surely I could do all the things if this blogger could be that successful and be a fabulous mama to four kids, I only had one! One day, I found a feature on her in a magazine at the doctor’s office. Turns out her mum and dad lived next door. They had the grandkids four days a week in school hours (they homeschooled), were on call for babysitting and to cover when travel was needed, and aunts and uncles were within driving distance for the same. I think I turned pale. This was a vastly different situation than had come across in the blog. It was the first time I really clocked that the online world can be candid but is still a collated exhibition of lives, not real peeks. I have grown wiser and no longer compare myself to others in the media, my fangirling is of kick-ass women I know, or know of.

Context matters.

Getting a leg up and knowing you have back up when you screw up is huge. I’m tired of reading articles of the shiny stuff, I want the whole story. 

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