wellness

OPINION: In 2021, women can be anything they want to be. Except for mediocre.

We live in a time of possibility. 

Women and girls everywhere are reaching for the stars and kicking goals. Prime Ministers, Vice Presidents, Australians of The Year and schoolgirls are doing incredible things around the world and, more than any time in history, our daughters can genuinely believe they can do anything; be anything. 

Social media is full of entrepreneurs, ‘Freedompreneurs’, ‘Mumpreneurs’, ‘Ecopreneurs’ and ‘Socialpreneurs’ and it must be hard for young women to choose what kind of superstar they should aim to become. According to Instagram, even being a mother involves curated lunch boxes, stylish clothing and beautiful, accomplished children.

We have to want more, we must stand out, we must CONTRIBUTE! If we believe the news and our socials, everyone is doing more, achieving more, being more. At least I could set up an Etsy store or a viral TikTok, right?

Side note: There's a group of people who meet at 5:30am to hustle, claiming they're "shunning sleep for a better self". Hear all about them on this episode of Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below.

Alongside the rise of the ‘preneur’ we have also seen a veritable landslide of ‘coaches’, people who yearn to tell us how to be healthy, wealthy and wise. From a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars is all it costs for a certificate that sets you on your way to inspiring others to ‘be their best selves’. 

Where Oprah was once the life advice guru, now Alison down the road can help you find your purpose, for a small fee (or small fortune). 

There are lists of habits of highly successful women - some of my favourites include such pearls as ‘drink clean water’ (you’re selling this, right?), meditate (if I don’t, will I be an unsuccessful woman?), write more handwritten notes (to thank Sally for her delicious afternoon tea), hire a maid (do I even need to say anything about this?), learn new vocab words ("vocab words", it really said that.) 

What I can gather from many of these types of lists is that ‘successful’ women are rich women, most probably white. But lists - we all need lists, or how will we know when we've ‘made it’? 

The pressure to be extraordinary has never been greater.

I, no doubt, appear rather negative, but I assure you, I’m all for women setting goals and working hard to achieve them (go you!) 

But what if we can’t find something special, an amazing idea or career or a way to change the world?

*Whispers* what if we don’t want to?

Is it ok to be ordinary? Can we wake up every morning and get on the bus go to our job, at an office, a supermarket, a factory? Is it ok to just work two days a week, walk the dog and clean the house? Do I really need to aspire to be in marketing or publishing, politics or astrophysics? 

I want to celebrate the ordinary, the mundane, the run of the mill. 

My reference point is the older people I know. For most of us, our mothers and grandmothers didn’t invent something, create a movement or run a country and were probably not leaders of industry (obviously, there are good reasons why women haven’t been as ‘successful’ as men in past generations - but that is for another article). 

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I want to know if it’s ok to aspire to be like our ‘mediocre’ mothers. Is it ok to want a quiet life? I remember my grandma’s scones and my mum’s love of reading and how she liked doing cooking courses, not to become a great chef but to feed the family. Mum worked as a school librarian and volunteers for the Lifeline Book Fair. She is eminently unremarkable and perfectly ‘normal’.

"What if we can’t find something special, an amazing idea or career or a way to change the world?" Image: Getty.

Here’s an alternative picture of a ‘successful’ woman (or man, for that matter): perhaps they choose to live a routine life, that suits them just right, they don’t want to rise through the ranks to run a corporation, they help the world by being kind and helping their neighbours, they drive whatever car they like and holiday where they can afford. 

Perhaps it’s ok to be average. 

Not everyone will be special and that’s ok. I celebrate amazing women doing amazing things, and am in awe of their commitment, but have accepted that I won’t necessarily ever achieve anything of note. 

I hope young women give themselves a break and don’t feel like failures if they live an unremarkable life. 

We live in a time of possibility. Let’s remember that one of those possibilities is to be ordinary.

Yael Blinco is an English teacher and voracious reader. She lives an unremarkable life in Sydney's Northern Beaches, among remarkable people.

Feature image: Getty/Mamamia.

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