21 Ways Women Learn to be Stuck

Ever want to crow a victory to someone and then have them say, “yes But?” Here’s what’s behind that.

Perfectionism is a fairly common American female bodied thing. Thus it’s a fairly common nonprofit worker thing. Why?

So when girls get more consequences, they get more nervous about making things PERFECT. And they worry that they are not good enough. And society reinforces this by giving women fewer chances to make mistakes, and jumping on them for every little thing. Like their fashion. Or perhaps having TOO MUCH nonprofit experience and no MBA?

1. Because we are judged to higher standards than men are-almost from the word Go

2. Because we are not allowed to make as many mistakes before we are judged incompetent

3. Because our parents also held us to higher standards as soon as we were born.

4. Because we were taught that our only value lies in the work we can do for others.

5. Because we were taught that unless we obeyed, and pleased others, we did not have the right to our own autonomy.

6. Because we were taught that we were smaller, weaker, more feminine, therefore, less deserving of respect.

7. Because we were taught that women are less deserving of respect, space, time, and airtime.

8. Because we were taught that doing things for free is how you get ahead.

9. Because we were taught that the worst thing you can be is greedy (asking for more) and selfish (standing up for yourself)

10. Because they called us whiners when we complained about something important.

11. They encouraged us to stay in our box and not try new things that required a learning curve. Because then we would show ourselves as not perfect.

12. Because we were taught that we had to get ALL of our work done before we could play, we were robbed of time spent with people we love. We kept working under incredible workloads, and it was still never enough.

13. Because we were taught perfectionism, we were always judging others by those same impossible standards. And inevitably, finding them wanting.

14. Because we were taught perfectionism, we looked outside ourselves for the source of unhappiness. We looked at how others were unhappy, and decided that at least we were better off than them. We looked to them to relieve our stress, to put them down, to get a one-up on the world through gossiping.

15. Because of capitalism and perfectionism, we looked at self help books because we thought if we just read one more self help book, we could finally be PERFECT. The perfect weight. The perfect amount of smarts. The perfect title at the perfect job, with the perfect hair and wardrobe.

16. But because of patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, sexism and internalized sexism and racism, and classism, we were never actually enough. We could never be enough, there was always a new way to give our power and our money away.

17. Because we were taught that all we could do was be a caretaker, we became good at it. We became so good at it that people started associating caretaking with us. And then expecting us to do it for free.

18. Because of perfectionism, we can never be happy with any small victory for women, or for our causes. there’s always more to be done. Always someone telling us, don’t celebrate YET because we still have a long way to go! Always someone saying don’t be so happy BECAUSE this terrible thing is still happening, and THAT terrible thing is still happening.

Guess what. We can have hope. It’s ok to be happy. In fact, you deserve to be happy, no matter how imperfect you are.

19. Because we were taught perfectionism, it’s important to always be RIGHT. Cynicism and saying YES BUT is a good way to always be right.

The YES BUT syndrome. Let’s talk about it. Let’s steal the teddy bear of despair from people who keep saying YES BUT to us!

This naive cynicism is just as bad as naive ambition. Just keep working hard and you’ll be successful! Just keep being cynical and you’ll always be RIGHT!

20. Because we were taught perfectionism, it’s important to stay in a failed relationship. Because a woman alone is only half a woman. And if you fail at a relationship, then you have no value, you have no worth. We watch family members or friends stay in bad relationships, we watch our careers be disappointing- we watch our own lives be something we cannot escape- and there we are.

21. Because we were taught perfectionism, we believe we have to be young, beautiful, perfect, to find our next match. And if we are not these things, then there is no hope for us. There is always hope.

It’s not perfect. But it could never be. And setting yourself up to expect perfection from yourself or others (EVEN UNCONSCIOUSLY mind you!)  is simply going to make you crazy.

When we look at what’s underneath all of our complaining, our striving and yearning, we might just find that we are pretty ok. And we have anger and fear and resentment and joy and all of these things, all at once.

That’s the beauty of it.

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