The Woman I Want to Be

I am not the woman that you can see in old movies from the 50s and 60s. I am also not the woman that the feminist in me says I should strive to be. Let me explain.

I will never be a housewife. When I picture my life in ten or fifteen years, I cannot see a woman who stays home, cooks, cleans, and takes care of the children. I don’t see a woman who greets her husband when he gets home from work with a kiss on the cheek and a casserole on the table.

It’s totally okay if that is the future you want. I just don’t see myself being that kind of woman.

For one, I only enjoy cooking on rare occasions, and I would be an absolutely awful housekeeper, simply because I am one of the messiest and most cluttered people you could ever meet. I want to have children someday, but I don’t think I would be fulfilled by making them my full-time job.

I also don’t see a future where I am a high-powered, influential woman. This is the type of person that my inner feminist pushes me to be. I should be a woman working in New York City who makes just as much money as her husband and sees the kids when she gets home from work. I should wear power suits and be an eloquent speaker, working my way up the corporate ladder and one day running the company.

Again, it is great if you see yourself this way in the future, but I can’t.

One problem with these two scenarios is that, according to a lot of people, women can only be these two things. These are the two spheres that woman are so often thrown into. You are either a housewife, content to stay at home and take care of the kids, or you are a powerhouse stepping on others with your stiletto heel.

Why isn’t there a middle ground?

A couple years back, my mother and I had a serious conversation. At this time, I wanted to be a journalist living in Washington D.C. As I was discussing this with my mother, she suddenly got very sullen, and asked me the most adult question that I had ever been asked.

“Carly, what about having a family?”

This question made me stop in my tracks. And at the time, I was perfectly comfortable stating that I wanted a career, and if that meant not having a family, then I was okay with it.

As I got older and the future became clearer, I realized that I wasn’t okay with that.

The only future I saw had a husband and kids in it. But I don’t want to be a stay at home mom and have my family define me.

So what do I do?

Society tells me to do one or the other, but neither are perfect options. If I am a stay at home mom, I am lazy and unemployed. If I have kids and a job too, then I am neglectful of my children and my husband. If I don’t have kids and instead devote myself to a career, then I am power hungry.

There is no way to win in this scenario.

The thing is, men don’t usually get this type of scrutiny when it comes to their relationship with their occupation and their families. If they work full time, then they are providers. If they chose to not have kids, then they are focusing on their careers. The only time they receive a little bit of flack is in the case of stay at home dads, but that small group of men is receiving more praise than hate as of late.

I don’t care what you do with your lives. In my opinion, as long as you are happy, that is all I can ask for.

It took me a bit to figure out what my priorities are in life. I started to picture what my life would look like in several different scenarios, and none of them felt perfect.

I cannot picture my future without kids. I can, however, picture my life without being a journalist. So this is how I have decided to live my life.

We need to figure out how to stop labeling women in general, but particularly when it comes to what they want to do with their lives. It is 2016, for goodness sake, yet we are still defining a woman in regards to her familial relationships.

I’ll never be fulfilled being a housewife and I cannot see my future without children, and that is okay. I will figure something out that will make me happy. But if society cannot be content with my version of happiness and only sees me in a way that is bad, how can I win?

Here’s to the Next 20 years

Last week, I turned 20. I know in the grand scheme of things 20 years isn’t exactly a huge deal, but it got me thinking a lot about all of the milestones of my life.

Five-year-old Carly loved to draw and listen to music. If you would have asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she probably would have said artist or singer or actress or something else in the entertainment industry. She loved her pretty pink skirts and lacy socks almost as much as her mother loved dressing her up in pretty pink skirts and lacy socks.

At 10-years-old, Carly had just written her first short story. It was called “Going to Paris,” and while it was small and rife with grammatical errors, Carly was so incredibly proud of it. It was at this time in her life that she knew she loved writing. It filled her with a sense of purpose that was new to her. But she knew that she liked it.

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Me and the BFF at age 10. Please ignore my snaggletooth.

By the time she was 13 and in the throws of adolescence, Carly had her first thoughts about being a journalist. Traveling around the world and writing seemed like a pretty good deal to her, and a heck of a lot easier than writing the next Great American Novel. During this year, Carly found herself an absolutely fantastic group of girlfriends that would go with her to middle school dances, the movie theater, and a water park for her 13th birthday, making unbelievable memories along the way .

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We thought we were really cool with our Charlie’s Angels pose, even though none of us had seen Charlie’s Angels. This also became a standard pose for every single group picture we took at dances.

At 16, Carly was very involved in high school. Furthering her journalistic ambitions, Carly was on the high school newspaper. She was also involved in her high school’s color guard, and in a few short months she would be named captain. This was also the time that Carly got her license, and with it, her first car, which she named Roxie. This allowed Carly more freedom to go places and to get her very first big-girl job at a frozen yogurt restaurant.

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Fresh, Fabulous, Frogen! (which was neither fresh nor fabulous)

Soon enough, Carly turned 18 and was finally an adult. She had been accepted into her dream school, was editor-on-chief of her high school newspaper, and again was surrounded by friends who made her feel special. It was around this time, however, that Carly’s career goals changed. Slowly, she realized that she wanted to become a teacher and write books on the side.

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*cue to graduation music*

Now, at 20, I look back at the goals and dreams I have had in the past. Some of those goals, like to win “American Idol” and become a famous singer, sadly went on the back burner when I learned what “tone deaf” meant. Others, like becoming an author, still linger in the back of my mind, latent until I have a burst of creativity that I can’t contain.

But I have done so many things that 5-year-old me never could have dreamed of accomplishing by the time I was 20. I have graduated high school. I have been published in Seventeen Magazine. I have worked for Disney World. I have made so many incredible friends during every single point in my life that I sometimes sit back and think, “How in the world could I have been so blessed?”

It’s not to say that I haven’t had hardships. Graduating high school was necessitated by the need to get a scholarship so I could afford college. My Seventeen Magazine article came to be because of my body issues. Working at Disney World came to fruition because, at the time, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and I needed time to figure it out.

You take the good with the bad, the ups with the downs. The bad moments make you appreciate the good moments, and the good moments make you appreciate the truly great ones.

What highlights in my mind as I reflect, however, are the incredible relationships I have made with my parents, my little brother, my friends (Wadsworth, John Carroll, and Disney included), my neighbors, my teachers, and my coaches.

I am so excited to see what the next 20 years might bring. Be it happy, sad, angry, or loving, I cannot wait to see.

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Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. {George Bernard Shaw}