If You're 21 to 40, This Was Written For You.

This is what comes up when you google "having it all."
How could I not include a disturbing gem like this?!?
The other day my friend Josh posted this terrific Ask Polly Q&A from nymag.com that I had to share entitled "Should I have a baby or establish my career first?" alternately titled, "What the hell am I doing? Is any of this right? Can someone tell me what's important and what I should be focusing on here?" (To be clear, that's my alternate title, not Polly's. But I mean, I'm right, right?)

You totes should read the whole thing (warning - the letter to Polly is long) because I guarantee that you have felt exactly how this woman feels, whether you're a man or a woman. But if you don't have time, at least read Polly's response - because it is honest and kind and difficult and right.

In a nutshell, Polly tells the woman to do both. Here, in Polly's own words:
Choose both. Choose the career AND choose the baby. Don't put off one for the other. Choose both now and later and accept that you'll be juggling for years no matter what you do. Even if you never have a career, you're going to feel like you're juggling. Parents juggle. Why not juggle things you love? Sure, you'll have to work hard and make some sacrifices. Accept it and move forward.
I love this advice. Because who do we think we're kidding, when we try to avoid the juggling? It's hard enough to juggle our lives before babies enter the picture. Before spouses. Before we got that promotion and had more responsibility. Before we graduated college. Basically, every step of the way, our lives have felt full and stressful and difficult to handle at times. But then we figure it out and we move forward and we accept a new challenge. And we juggle more. That's what living is, right? Adding babies to the mix is just taking the juggling to another level (albeit a challenging one!).

Naturally all this talk of juggling leads you to that phrase looming over every woman I know - the dreaded "having it all."  Polly gets into that, too:
Because having it all, by its very nature, implies that you have a lot more than you can handle. Who can handle "it all," anyway? "ALL" IS A WHOLE FUCKING HELL OF A LOT. If you have some kids and a career and you don't have big piles of cash and a staff of five, you're going to be busier and more conflicted than you've ever been before. Okay, even with the money and the staff you'll be busy and conflicted.
And she's right! Why do we think "having it all" means everything is great and perfect and easy? Having it all is hard! Because having it all means you've got a lot going on. And I think this is true no matter what that phrase means to you. Yes, there's the career plus babies contingent, but there's a buffet of other goals that may or may not fall into your definition of "having it all" - starting your own business, spending time with your aging parents, home schooling your kids, pursuing your writing/acting/art (probably while working a full-time job), volunteering in your community, finding time for your spouse, running marathons, hitting that next milestone at work, seeing your friends, keeping your house and bills and life in order...I could keep going, but it's exhausting to think about!

All of this stuff takes a lot of work...and a lot of juggling. But that's what life is. You are juggling the things you love, and sometimes it's hard because all the balls crash into each other. But they are all good balls, balls you worked hard for and balls you love (stop snickering), and just because they sometimes collide doesn't mean you should drop one.

I am writing this down, not as a lesson to you, but a reminder to myself.

"Having it all" is just a fancy way of saying you are juggling. And juggling is just a fancy way of saying you are living.

So in the words of Matthew McConaughey....just keep livin.