Disclaimer: In this post, I tried to describe the dilemmas that my friends and I have experienced as straight cis women, coming from various places in the world. As much as I would like to be inclusive, I am well aware that my experiences are not relatable for some groups of millennial females. Hence, I think it is vital for more and more women to share their own stories to create more diversity. Please share your dilemmas in the comments below!
Do you remember the iconic song ‘Dilemma’ of Nelly and Kelly Rowland? While the dilemma concerned an extramarital affair, which is not a topic of this article, the music video focused on showing the female struggle, including throwing an old-school flip phone with anger (omg, this phone looked so futuristic when I first saw this video). Is it because women tend to overanalyze and, therefore, always have more dilemmas? Maybe. Also, I couldn’t write about dilemmas without a follow-up to this song because I am just a nostalgia addict, as most of the millennials!
That being said, this article argues that the freedom of choice that millennial women have is a double-edged sword. Women from the past did not have many options. However, they did not have so many dilemmas as well.
The female generations before the millennials (see also: Millennial Manifesto) used to semiconsciously repeat the life patterns that they had known from their parents and grandparents. Despite some discrepancies, the very core of the lifestyle stayed the same for years: getting married and having children early, and working (or not working) in the same place for the rest of their life till retirement (see also: Ten Reasons Why I Can’t Stand Boomers).
Nowadays, we are obliged by modern society to do it all — yet we still hear that we can’t have it all. Millennial women have to be dedicated workers, cool girlfriends, loving wives, engaged mothers, inspiring leaders. It almost seems like women got more responsibilities, whereas men maintained their old life assignments or sometimes they have even less work to do. Some men became so comfortable with ‘do-it-all’ women that they can easily avoid any liability. Many of my female friends are complaining that men simply don’t feel the urge to step up because they don’t need to anymore.
Millennial women, despite their endless choices and freedom, are notoriously bombarded with contradictory messages that make their decision-making process much more difficult and complicated. There is always a hidden ‘but’ somewhere on the way. Thus, I identified five dilemmas of a millennial woman with the hope that some of you may relate. I would love to hear more thoughts about this from you!
1. You don’t need a man to be happy, BUT the family is everything.
As a former Pussycat Dolls fan, I love their ‘I don’t need a man’ empowering song. But let’s be honest here: is this true? While I agree that you must love yourself first before you are ready to create a healthy and fulfilling relationship with a man, I think that love between human beings can increase the happiness level.
Have you ever seen the same message addressed to men: ‘You don’t need a woman to be happy’? I don’t seem to recall ever seeing that. On the contrary, serious business platforms like Bloomberg encourage men to get married while presenting research that married men earn more (sic!).
The truth of the matter is that a good and supportive man can make you happy, just as Supreme Justice Ruth Ginsburg’s husband Marty did.
2. Follow your dreams, BUT only if they are ‘ambitious’ enough.
‘You can be whatever you want!’ ‘Girls can do everything!’, ‘Yaaaassss queen!’ — they say. In reality, you can do whatever you want, but only if what you want is ‘ambitious’ enough.
Do you want to be a singer? Maybe go to college first and then you will see. You can always do both, have a full-time ‘proper’ job, and be a singer as your hobby. Are you daydreaming about being in showbusiness? What about the law? You can then provide legal services to celebrities. Do you want to be an artist? What does that even mean? Can you try studying architecture or finance? Later you can try art, in your spare time, if you will have any.
3. You can do it all, BUT you can’t have it all at the same time.
Ok, so we get it. Women should be financially independent and focus on their career first, and then have a family.
What is the proper timeframe for ‘focusing on career first’? Five years? Or more? Some career paths are more challenging and demanding than others. What if it takes ten years? (getting first degree, second degree, third degree, tons of jobs/internships in between, staying late at work to prove your worth).
What if our bodies will be exhausted at the end? When to say ‘stop’ and decide that we are accomplished enough to be able to have children finally? When to stop stressing about the slightest possibility of unwanted pregnancy because this is not the time for it?
And why we can’t have it all at the same time? Because the market, employers, and men’s world do not allow for it? Should then we, the millennial women, accept the fact that only men can have it all at the same time? This whole concept doesn’t sound very fair to me.
4. Love and accept your body and treat yourself BUT also eat healthy and exercise at least three times per week.
5. Be a strong, independent woman BUT also get married as soon as possible and post 100000 pictures of your wedding.