Off & Running
a Blog of Life on the Run


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While enjoying a weekend away in Western NY, I glanced at the paper to see that, not far away in Seneca Falls, there was a celebration of Susan B. Anthony and the women’s suffrage movement. The next day, my mother and I just happened to drive by the movie theatre and made a last minute decision to see The Help. Both of these struck a deep chord with me.

Growing up as the oldest of four children whose parents were only 20 years older than myself, I was raised in a time where girls were expected to go to college after high school. Being from the country, I found that most girls my age weren’t finishing more than a year or two before becoming wives and mothers and spending their days at home. Although my mother was one of those high school graduates turned wife and mother, she was the voice that told me it wasn’t necessary to find a man and have children. A career should be my focus, not someone else.

Looking back to the early 1900’s when women’s suffrage was at its height, we see women who turned against the grain and fought for our rights, careers, choices, and futures. These women were different from those of their time because they were single (gasp!) and didn’t do what was expected of them. Moving forward to the 1960’s era of housewives depicted in The Help, we see women who went to college to get their “Mrs.” degree. They chose men who could take care of them & hired maids to take care of their children, cooking and cleaning while they played Bridge and setup charity events. Their education became useless.

Now we see women taking on corporate executive positions and leading non-profits instead of being someone’s Gal Friday. Women are taking bigger entrepreneurial risks and leading the way for the younger generations to prove that we can do more with less. We’re getting seats at the table now, but asLeslie Bradshaw asks “is that really enough?” Studies are showing that many women leave work before they leave work. Most of the time it’s due to getting married and planning for children. They don’t ask for raises or promotions because they plan to leave the workforce to stay at home with their future little ones. And then women complain that we’re not getting paid or treated equally.

Finding myself looking at my 30’s with great excitement for what’s to come, I see a woman not unlike the main character, Skeeter, in The Help. A young woman wanting to change the world, wanting to find her space by helping others. This gumption-filled character who went outside the confines of ‘normal’ and proved herself by taking a stand for others. She is someone to look up to, to become more like, to be humbled by. She’s the woman I want my nieces and nephews to look up to and my parents to be proud of.

About 10 years ago my mom had a conversation with a friend of hers who was single, 35 and waiting. She hadn’t even bought towels because she thought you had to be married to get towels as a wedding gift. My mom told her she needed to go do things because she wanted to. So, she went to Honduras on a missions trip, bought a house, finally bought towels and became happy with her life. She’d always been waiting for someone to be happy with and realized her life was waiting for her instead.

As a woman who seems to have it all together, I wonder why this notion of ‘what’s next’ keeps me searching for a ’someone’. Why is the next step always marriage and/children? Why can’t a big career and amazing friends/family be enough? Why is there always the comment “Oh, you’re pretty. You’ll find someone.”?

 It may not be 1890 or 1960 but we still have the requirement of marriage surrounding us as women. We’re taught to be independent and to find ourselves but when will we stop being looked at like there’s something wrong with us if we choose to be alone. Our lives aren’t based on our careers, but the end game always seems to be settling down. I look at the lives of most married women and see them looking at my life with wonderment. I think I’ll just keep on keeping on and see where life takes me next instead of trying to fit a mold the women of the 20’s & 60’s tried to break for me.

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