Wherein I Whine About Superwoman Disease

You may think that your days of Superwoman Disease – trying to do and be everything – to be a superwoman – are over. After all, you’re no longer raising your children and/or trying to establish yourself in the early days of your career. And you’ve read many articles on why you shouldn’t put pressure on yourself to Do It All and Be The Best. You’ve grown and matured and gained perspective, right?

Yeah, well, I’m telling you, if you were afflicted by Superwoman Disease way back when, it lives in you now – like the chickenpox virus, which if you had the disease once is lying dormant in your nerves right now, waiting to come out and attack you with shingles if it feels like it, even if it’s been 50 years since you scratched your last scabby little pox. (I know, there’s a shingles vaccine now; it wasn’t around when I got shingles after my first daughter was born. And p.s., get a vaccine if you haven’t yet. You never, ever want to get shingles.)

So you might still be suffering from Superwoman Disease without even knowing it. After all, the desire to excel is a personality trait, regardless of life stage. It too lives in your nerves, so to speak. Are you still trying to be too much to too many? To put yourself out there as “one of the best,” one of the happiest, luckiest, cleverist, most successful all the time? Oh, I don’t know, maybe Facebook comes to mind? Be honest, do you feel a little internal “Oh no!” every time someone posts fabulous photos of their latest international travels, or their beautiful grandchildren, or their fab clothes, or great celebrations, or meals, or whatever else makes you feel like you’re not keeping up? Maybe it’s just me, but some relentless users of Facebook make me feel, sometimes, like my life is chopped liver compared to theirs. Hey, I’m in fact mighty lucky, very happy with my husband, my children, the work I do, where I live. But sometimes when I look at Facebook, I don’t feel as shiny or clever or prosperous or befriended as others paint themselves to be. And instead of thinking simply, “good on them,” I feel kind of diminished. So what’s the problem?

Superwoman Disease, that’s what. Superwoman Disease is today’s shingles. It’s not that things are bad in my life, it’s that comparisons to others can make me feel bad. Because I’m not jetting outside the USA every six months, or wearing gorgeous gowns to multiple formal social events, or being feted by a growing mass of adoring children and grandchildren every Mother’s Day, or posing clever teasers or questions on Facebook and garnering 126 likes and 82 comments every time (or, um, ever, actually). Even though I’m happy with my loved ones and my circumstances, my Superwoman cape can feel pretty thin and tattered. Where’s my vaccine for these frequently aroused symptoms?

Well, lucky for me, we’re having a workshop about this common affliction at Women At Woodstock this fall. My friend and WAW alum from way back Janet Neal will be leading a session called “So Let’s Talk About My Hair.” Huh? How does that relate to what I’m whining about here? Click here to find out.  

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