You Need To Know 'All' To Recognize It

You Need to Know 'All' To Recognize It


Ever since I read this essay sometime last week, I don't think I've really stopped thinking about the concept of 'having it all'.  

The author, Delia Ephron, was clear in making her point that 'all' is relative. It expands and contracts.  It changes overtime depending on where we are in our lives and our perceptions of what we can still achieve realistically.  Ephron was also very clear that the American female version of 'having it all' being only interpreted to mean having a career, marriage and children, is 'revolting'. I would even throw in the words "oppressive", "delusional" and "exclusionary".

One of the most striking points Ephron made in the essay, for me, was the fact that she underscored how 'having it all' is statistically impossible mainly because it keeps breeding wanting even more....and then some more!  I've always felt bad about labeling myself 'insatiable' but I bet I'm not the only one.  I feel that it's human nature to keep wanting more, although I'm sure our degrees of insatiability vary.  Some people are just incapable of being happy with what they have, while some can always find contentment with 'what is', in spite of the presence of their 'what could still be'.  

It is within this context of insatiability and my questioning myself about my capability for happiness and contentment that I began thinking of how my definition for 'all' has changed through the years.  

When I was about to start college, at sixteen, 'all' was about getting into the program I had applied for in the top university I wanted with such singular focus.

I got it and so 'all' changed.

At 18, 'all' meant being allowed by my father to drive my own car and have a greater feeling of independence.  I learned to drive, but he was too paranoid at the time to let me.  

I did not get it so 'all' had to change.

Then I thought life would be perfect if only I had a boyfriend, a smart, responsible and good looking boy to hold hands with as I walk the university hallways.  What a great addition to top it 'all' off, completing the magical trifecta of happy family-good grades-love life.  

It didn't happen again and I opted to convince myself that I can't have it all. Family and good grades should be enough for now.  So I moved on to a different 'all'.

After graduating from college, it was 'all' about getting a job.  Then, it was followed by getting a job that I liked and was more related to my degree. Both happened somehow, but still not to the level I wanted.

So I had to go back to feeling that 'all' was really about getting a boyfriend. This time, it needed to be someone who was truly marriage material.  After all, I was already in my mid-20's.  

The first two jobs did not cut it.  And sadly, I still didn't find anyone who was cut for the future husband role.  Maybe a change in game plan was seriously needed, I thought.  So I decided to step back, take a pause.  In reality, this pause translated to going for a master's degree.

Now that would surely give me 'all'!

While in graduate school, back in my beloved (top) university, 'all' became defined by getting accepted for a teaching position.  To live the life of an intellectual, an academic, was 'all' that mattered.

I got it.  I was invited to apply.  I interviewed, and got accepted.  Naturally, 'all' had to change once more.  It had to go back to that one elusive element: a love life.

Then finally, FINALLY, I met someone remarkable.  There I was, doing something I loved and didn't mind showing up for every day, and having someone I could possibly marry and grow old with for the rest of my life.  Now if only he were here with me, physically, that is.  You see, what I had was a long-distance relationship.  I guess, it still wasn't enough to be 'all'.

The relationship didn't work out as I had planned and being in my late 20's at the time, (close to 30 actually), I was sure that what would bring me my utmost happiness and sense of 'all' was to explore foreign lands, start anew somewhere, AND have someone to love and be loved.


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