I read a news article at the weekend that highlighted that young women (16-30 – I just get into this age bracket!) feel lonely, isolated, and feel they can not cope. My initial reaction to this was to say “That’s not me!” But when I thought a bit more, I wonder if it is.
The article in the http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/nov/23/young-womens-trust-platform51-ywt reported on a questionnaire of 1,000 young women as part of a year long review conducted in England and Wales. Whilst young women highlighted more career opportunity than their mothers, and better chance of balancing career and parenting, they also highlighted a lot of negative things too – such as 1 in 4 young women felt that they had no one to turn to when they needed help.
Whatever social situation, it seems that women experience some negativity – 5% of women who had a degree also suffered from depression and isolation. Although the survey was relatively small, and highlighted issues for young women that don’t necessarily relate to me – such as unemployment and being on benefits – but the article got me thinking. Can women cope? Do we have people to turn to? Is life better for us than our Mothers?
This morning before I went to work, I had to change the baby, dress the baby, look after the baby whilst Dan tried to get sorted. He is just starting to look after Bubs, he is trying his best, but he still needs a bit of a helping hand. Basically, I was late for work. I was late for work because I just couldn’t leave the baby, or Dan, when they both needed help.
I felt stressed, I felt hot, flustered. I couldn’t concentrate on my day ahead. Is this the pressure?
I can not remember anything anymore. People laugh and joke with me that it’s “baby brain” and I laugh and make those jokes too. But at work, I have to write everything down. I can’t remember numbers, emails, lists of things to do. I used to be able to remember reams of information. I have two diaries which I take everywhere as I can’t remember what I’m doing, work or at home. I look at the computer screen and my eyes go into a blur. My attention span seems to have diminished. I forget to eat or drink, and get headaches, and today my hands started shaking – low blood sugar I thought but even an emergency biscuit didn’t help.
Yes, some of it is getting back into work. But a lot of it is because my mind is not on my job. Generally I can get through the day in one piece. At the moment I am only doing 2 days a week. What will I be like when I have to work 4?
Being the one who earns the most money, I have to go to work. That is a lot of pressure. The thing is, I enjoy my job most of the time – I just can’t give it my full attention. What is this like if you don’t? I am hoping that these issues will pass, once I’ve got back into a new/old routine, and we have all settled into our new roles, and how it will work each day. I’ve got to give it more time to settle.
Other stresses this article highlights are loneliness, depression and isolation. It made me think. There are many times when I feel lonely, even when I am meeting other people. Living away from my family is hard too. You can feel quite cut off from your old life once you’ve had a baby – most of my social life was connected to work – and unless you make a physical effort, then it can be all consuming, this emptiness. I am glad I started blogging as an outlet, and as a way to meet other like minded people. For me, it has helped greatly.
Young women can feel so many things. When I was 16 I had many different dreams and aspirations than I do now. Sometimes I feel sad I never achieved these. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve made the right choices. Sometimes I feel trapped, and want to break out of what I am doing. Sometimes I dream of walking away from everything and starting again.
Is it better for me now than it was for my mum? Yes, in many ways, it is. When I think of my mum, who gave birth to me at 21, she struggled a lot. My mum never got a degree. My mum took whatever jobs she could. Eventually she got a job, and worked her way up – but I doubt she really enjoyed it or felt it was her calling in life. I have been able to go to university, train as a nurse. I have mangled to stay relatively debt free in comparison to my parents who had to live in debt to bring myself and my siblings up. So yes, I think life is better.
But because your life is better doesn’t mean you don’t feel lonely, or isolated.
In my life I have tried my best to be independent, to make my own choices, fiercely so. But it is this moment in my life that I have felt the most pressure. Being responsible, having someone dependent on you, is a great pressure indeed. It is easy to feel like you can’t cope. When there are things you can’t control in life, we all feel life is running away from us. The thing is to recognise how you feel, and get some support, because there is a lot out there.
I think I am coping, just about.