How much are you obsessed with numbers? Some of you may have hated math at school but that sure doesn’t stop us from defining ourselves by them! You may have heard the age-old tale that you must have kids before you’re 30, you must squeeze into a size 36 and you must have bought your first house before you’re 35. It’s just all too restraining - what numbers are controlling your life?
As human beings, we are all exposed to numbers as a guide around which our life can revolve; as women, it’s even more so the case. When you think about it, some of your goals, no matter how trivial they may seem, are based around statistics or numbers, and this may be done consciously or subconsciously.
In a world where we are shedding sizes, letting women wear whatever they want to, and we are all about being inclusive to everyone - why are we so hyped up about some lame numbers? Good to disclose upfront, we aren’t hating XS women. If they are made to fit in size 34 and feel fabulous, that’s all that matters, as do women that are a size 46. We don’t particularly pinpoint a certain size to advertise or support here contrary to many brands who see this as a big trend currently and take full advantage of it as a marketing material. Who are we to attach labels according to the numbers in your life? We are women, we do know that a real woman in real life juggles many roles. She may or may not have time to hit the gym after dropping her kid(s) off at school or working on her next big board meeting. But it’s not just that. Not only fashion brands, but all brands in the world work with numbers to secretly embed the next life goal into us, and numbers are what society drills into us because they know we will appeal more to a woman who we aspire to be. Brands conduct this so well that they just respond to these aspirations of ours. Thus, instead of putting all the blame on brands, let us think about society’s role in this whole fiasco.
Slimming down to 60kg, wearing 10-inch heels, being a size 36... Why so many numbers? That’s even without taking your career into consideration – you have to negotiate your pay, you must be earning more every year, you must have 1 million followers and you must have so many contacts on LinkedIn. That’s certainly not a satisfying way of living your life, because none of these numbers aren’t personalized for YOU, nor are sufficient to define fully who you are.
The fact of the matter is we use these numbers as a disguise for the fact that we just don’t know; we’re using them as a safety rail and we are clinging to them with dear life. It’s ok not to know where you’re heading yet, but don’t use sole numbers as a template for your own path – otherwise, you won’t get anywhere that clicks with real you. Basing your life around statistics derived from other people is not only unhealthy mentally and physically, but also boring. No two people are meant to be the same and why should they be? Comparisons can damage your life, professionally and privately. Comparing your salary to your male colleague’s, and just blaming on the fact that “he’s a guy”, is an easy route out - what about their experience? Their hours? Their negotiation skills? Comparing yourself to size 36 women who are naturally that way, when you have always been a size 40 is impractical - you can’t change the way you are built. You can make yourself healthier, but don’t try and change your whole morphology because of harsh comparisons. The same logic goes for increasing your salary - you can make the change you want only when you are able to come down to the root of the reasons.
If you are feeling a little lost, then fix your own goals – if you want to slim down, then fix a realistic target. If you want to negotiate your pay, base it on what you think your work and experience is worth considering your industry and overall peer group - regardless of that male colleague, because his value does not define your value. Last but not least, if you want to have a goal to reach before you’re 40, do it, but don’t do it because it’s what society expects of you.
Yes, because yet again, society is responsible for this pressure we put on ourselves. Ironically, society is us, so why are we voluntarily putting ourselves down? We should be free to live our life the way we want, without this burden on our shoulders that we are women - so-called we should be having kids before we’re 30, getting married at 25 and not having a mid-life crisis at 45. Life is unexpected, crazy at the best of times, and unpredictable – there is no way we can be so precise in our goals because life has a great habit of not playing out the way you wish it would. Then why is it such a huge deal?
No matter how hard we try to break free of the shackles of society and what it tries to impose on us, we can’t seem to let loose and live a little. Growth comes from within – and not from some voice in you saying you should do something before you’re 35. You see the problem in that sentence? Should – it is deceiving and sounds like you are receiving advice, but it’s really you saying you must, therefore pressuring you into the stats you read in the magazines, ages based on your nearest and dearest, when actually, you should replace it by could. You could do it if you had the opportunity and the time to, if you are in the right frame of mind, but if you’re not, then wait.
The only way you’re going to grow, and achieve your goals is if;
- You let go of the numbers for a start: numbers mean jack, go at your own pace, the less pressure you put on yourself, the happier and more fulfilled you will be to reach your own goals.
- You make the most of your present: so what, you did something that didn’t necessarily conform to what other people expected of you? You’re not living your life by their book, but your own – stop thinking about the past, and live your present, and live your truth.
- You are realistic: As I said, life is crazy, bittersweet and unpredictable – things will go wrong, but when they go right, boy are they right! Just dust yourself off and move on, there’s no point in thinking “I’m 25 and I’m not a multi-millionaire influencer yet”.
- You surround yourself with the right people: if we feel this pressure to live by a certain standard, and by certain numbers, it may be because the people who surround us are damaging through their expectations. Surrounding yourself with a supportive network is nourishing for the mind and soul, and a lot more productive.
I know this may sound easier said than done, but this is so important. The number of times I have heard “I went to college because my parents expected me to be qualified and working in a prestigious job at 25”, or “I need to lose weight, I need to be a size 34 like I was in high school” if I got a dime for every single time I heard that.
This life is yours, and you have only got one, so live it by your rules – be rebellious, be challenged, and invest your heart and soul into what makes you passionate, but don’t time yourself! You’ll look back on this time of your life when you’re older and wonder what the fuss was about.
By Emma Philo - Editor at She Is Rebel