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viewpoint

Support all women

| Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I almost submitted a very angry viewpoint a couple of weeks ago. You can ask my friends, among whom the copy of said “scathing” viewpoint was spread and discussed at quite some length. From friends telling me it was brilliant, to friends telling me that I had personally offended them at their core, it seemed to have struck quite a chord. After my parents managed to convince me that somehow submitting this viewpoint would shatter my public image forever, I decided to hold off on pressing that send button.

Let me explain this vaunted viewpoint. As a junior, whose prospects of receiving a ring in the next few weeks seem at this point fairly slim, I was disgruntled by what seemed like to me to be constant talk from professors, friends and classmates alike about how life seemed to culminate in getting married and having children as soon as possible. After years of conversations revolving around majors and possible career choices, I was slightly perplexed at what seemed like the complete shift to discussions about things like favorite proposal spots or the number and names of potential future children. And I admit it, I felt judged ⎯ I felt like many of those around me, especially in my major, were subtly looking down upon me because my path to marriage and children has not yet been neatly paved in front of me. All of this culminated in an angry rant about how these students needed to get over themselves and stop making everyone who wasn’t wedding dress shopping just feel like failures.

After having a discussion with my mom over Easter break though, and hearing about how she was made to feel bad by some of her working friends after making the decision to stay home and raise her children, I realized that I was angry at the wrong thing. I’m not angry at the choices of others; I’m angry that there needs to be an antagonism between these different choices.

This might be speaking too far to the future, but why can’t all those who plan on marrying and having kids right after college credit and support women who are planning on making progress in their career for those early post-college years? Why can’t women with an eye towards working their way to success or trying to impact the world outside of the household acknowledge the great value of their fellow sisters who are putting their energy at the time into raising their children? For each individual woman, there will be many different choices, and just because someone else is choosing a different path does not make yours any less valid or beautiful. I think this simple message has gotten garbled in a typical Notre Dame combination of competitiveness, wanting to change the world in every way and philosophy professors who tell you that if you aren’t engaged by the time you leave Notre Dame, you’re in trouble.

Let’s ignore those people who try to tell us how to live our lives and on what timetable to operate our relationships, whether those people are friends, parents or professors. Let’s work past our own insecurities and stop operating under the idea that we constantly need to prove to others that the way we are living our lives is the only “successful” way to live. As many of us prepare to enter the “real world,” let’s promise to support each other as women, from the future stay-at-home mother of five to the future president of a nonprofit.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • Joan of Arc

    Amen, sister!

  • Becca Self

    Thank you! I think this is really well-written, and that this viewpoint will have a more positive impact than one that came primarily from disgruntled feelings 🙂 I would ask you to consider, though, that choosing the path of a committed relationship during or soon after ND is not easy. You write, “I felt like many of those around me, especially in my major, were subtly
    looking down upon me because my path to marriage and children has not
    yet been neatly paved in front of me.” I would just submit that it’s not neatly paved for anyone; working toward a career and working toward a family – and combining both – all have their difficulties. We should try to respect each other out of mutual understanding, not just because we’re women and women have to stand together. Thanks!

  • Pam

    Support and encouragement are core elements of true friendship.
    Competition and jealousy usually indicate self doubt over ones own decisions. So even though it can seem hurtful, focus on being at peace with your own choices and encouraging personal insight to those who are struggling with their own decisions. Great article that encourages personal insight that could bridge this common gap between true friends.