'Having it all.' It's the phrase of a generation who fought for equal rights in the workplace. Earning an income, raising a family, and maintaining a social life became the ultimate standard of balanced success in the modern era.
But who's to say when you have it all? What standard are we measuring against? And who says there's an ideal life, anyway? In June, Anne-Marie Slaughter spoke to The Takeaway about her piece in The Atlantic called "Why Women Still Can't Have It All." Within a week, it had garnered over a million views online, and is now the most-read piece in the magazine's history.
But Marie Myung-Ok Lee thinks we're missing the point. In a world that throws so many curveballs, uniquely challenging each of us, why are we comparing our lives to anyone else's? Her family history, her son who has a variety of medical problems, her career, and her observations on modern culture make her wonder who, exactly, ever promised us 'it all.' "The way society works, we have to have a judgment with [anything]," Lee says.
Lee sees how people could look at her experience as a mother of an autistic child with severe behavioral problems and wonder how she could ever cope. For her, however, her experience is just that — hers and hers alone. From her perspective, she has everything that she needs in life. "I definitely have enough, and I'm grateful," Lee says. "I have more than enough."
"America is founded on this self-help, 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' [mentality]," Lee says. "You can always improve yourself, you can always improve your life." Lee thinks that people are pulled along by societal demands and expectations to be more successful in every aspect of life.
"It's the inwardness that we're losing," Lee says. "Instead of taking a moment to sit in your garden or do whatever you want to do, it's sort of like, 'Oh, I could go on Twitter, or there's something [else I could do]. [People ask themselves], 'What can I worry about next? What's missing for me? What am I missing out on?'"