For many driven and goal-oriented women, the expectations placed on us by society, our families, and our very own inner aspirations can lead to overwhelming pressure and self-doubt. This can provoke us to strive for perfection – which in turn can create the kind of  stress that blinds us to where the path to genuine success lies. Worse, it makes us experience the feelings of self-fulfillment and contentment as elusive or ephemeral at best.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott

What is this predicament we find ourselves in?

Women often find themselves entangled in a web of expectations, from conforming to narrow beauty standards and being expected to embody perpetual niceness, to shouldering traditional gender roles and the bulk of emotional labor. Moreover, societal pressures dictate marrying and having children according to the ticking of their biological clocks. These multifaceted expectations create a complex landscape for women to navigate in their daily lives.

This is how these expectations can look like in the life of today’s modern women on a daily basis.

Striving for Superwoman Status

Goal-oriented women deftly juggle multiple roles every day, tirelessly striving to excel in various domains. They skillfully balance nurturing the family household, pursuing career growth, and even squeezing in time for a vibrant social life. However, this day-to-day rush to accomplish everything can leave them emotionally spent, yearning for a much-needed break.”

Fear of Failure or Success

How often have we witnessed women being unfairly criticized for their perceived “slow” decision-making? In truth, this so-called “procrastination” often stems from a reluctance to take risks or embark on new endeavors, driven by the fear of disappointing others or falling short of our own high standards. There is also the anxiousness that comes from giving in to other people’s expectations. There is something low-key terrifying, for many women, to be led away from their true selves and rendering them unrecognizable, even to their own eyes.

Sacrificing Self-Care

Prioritizing the needs  of others over their personal well-being, is a story that repeats itself in many women’s daily lives. Society’s expectations often push women to sacrifice their desires and dreams. Consequently, this can send many women plunging into a spiral of exhaustion with scant time to rejuvenate their soul or gain clarity into themselves as individuals independent of their utility to others.

Getting Caught in the Comparison Trap

Constantly comparing ourselves and our achievements to others can make us feel inadequate. It was a lot more manageable before the age of social media. In the age of “doom scrolling”, going through other people’s seemingly perfect moments can evoke feelings of not measuring up or being left behind. Caught in this web of comparisons, we can get sucked into using these curated lives and highlight reels as the yardsticks by which we judge our own lives. This can lead us to failing to see our own growth, progress, and the value in our individual experiences. As a result, our sense of self-worth becomes entwined with external validation, leaving us perpetually unsatisfied.

The Balancing Act on the Tightrope That Is Life

Striking a harmonious work-life balance is one of the biggest challenges women face. The pressure to excel in our careers while nurturing personal relationships and tending to our well-being can be overwhelming. This can leave us feeling uncomfortably stretched thin.

Our “modern” roles in our “modern” lives can find ourselves grappling with stress and guilt. The never-ending to-do lists and constant demands from various spheres can leave us feeling like we are falling short in one area or another. It’s not uncommon to question whether we are dedicating enough time to our loved ones, giving our best at work, or taking care of ourselves adequately.

Breaking the chains that bind us to burdens of unreal expectations requires tools. Here’s a few that can help you get on your way to the path of personal liberation:

1. Set Realistic Goals. Define what your objectives are, make them achievable, and align them with your core values. Regularly remember to celebrate milestones and your track progress.

2. Cultivate Self-Compassion. Embrace imperfections, be kind to yourself, and accept that mistakes are part of growth. As a matter of fact, mistakes can become stepping stones towards metamorphosis.

3. Establish Boundaries. Prioritize self-care, learn the science and art of saying no, and create a healthy work-life integration.

4. Embrace Vulnerability. Seek support from a trusted network of family and friends, or a personal coach, to share challenges and gain insights. Seeking guidance can help you embrace and nurture vulnerability and aid your growth.

5. Practice Mindfulness. Reduce stress and connect with your authentic self through meditation or journaling. Shut out the sound and fury of the  outside world and allow yourself to pay attention to what your inner voice is telling you.

6. Build A Solid Support Network. Find your tribe. Surround yourself with mentors and like-minded people to encourage growth. They can help shine a light on the path you are on, as well as the path you want to take, with the illumination that genuine friendships can provide.

Every big journey starts with a small step. But with courage, commitment, and a little help along the way, those little those steps will take you to where you need to go.

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