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Superwoman Status: Overrated

Philippa Moss

As we end another year it is important to remember that being superwoman is seriously overrated!

This might sound strange, but for the past few years I’ve been operating in my own personal time zone – precisely seven minutes ahead of the rest of everyone else.

My watch, alarm clock and iPhone all reflect this. It means I start the day ahead and feel as though I’m winning at life before I even leave the house for work in the mornings. After all seven is a magic number – isn’t it?

Of course, I’m always early, but I like being the first one to arrive as it gives me time to take a deep breath and prepare myself for whatever is in store. It’s just one of the many routines I have adopted in an effort to be superwoman.

I start the day with porridge one day and a green smoothie the next (fibre: tick!); as I get ready for work I listen to ABC (current affairs: tick!). A couple of times a week I do yoga before work (mindfulness: tick!). I decide on an outfit that makes me look like I know about fashion but I don’t try too hard (cool chick: tick!). I walk to work through the streets of Braddon and grab a soy chi latte on the way (urbanite: tick!)

I am driven at work, my career and the people I work with are absolutely a priority and so I put 100% and more into my workday, which is often six and sometimes seven days a week. I know I am efficient and effective at my job but I hope I am kind and generous to people.

I’ve tried to be superwoman but it’s seriously overrated.

Supermum? I’m not.

I remember when my kids were in primary school and there was the dreaded book week! Why did I feel compelled to plan a costume, go shopping for the right fabric and accessories and then come home and get out the sewing machine? Even now when my 19-year-old daughter calls, I answer and I drop everything to listen to her drama and complicated life dilemmas – I still support my children financially, emotionally and in every way they need or in every way I think they need. Maybe this is mother guilt playing out but that is for another day.

I personally value my financial independence and I was also ambitious in terms of achieving a certain status in my career but still I always had the niggling feeling that in some way I would be a better mother if I was at home more or at school more or if my child was in a home-made costume.

My desire to be independent also meant that I was never very good at asking for help. I see this with friends and generally women trying to please everyone all the time and ending up sad, frustrated or burnt out. I often want to be all things to all people and it is exhausting.

Now that I am older and wiser (a little!) I can see that the key to managing my life is to know where my priorities lie, and spending time on those and outsource all the rest. I ask myself what are the most important things for me to spend my time on? What are my values and how can I live by them?

When we are giving to others all the time sometimes we forget to look after ourselves.

There is a very good reason why airlines ask you to put on your own oxygen mask before attending to children: we cannot look after others unless we are healthy and well ourselves. And I mean that beyond a simple lack of health problems but in terms of seeking optimal well-being by looking after all aspects of our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy levels.

Isn’t it crazy that we beat ourselves up over things we did or didn’t do, or things we said or how we behaved?

Listen to that voice in your head. Would you ever speak to a loved one in the same way you talk to yourself? Most of us are good at using kindness on another but not so much on ourselves. Talk to yourself as you would to a good friend: comforting, supporting, encouraging, motivating.

But I wonder what would happen if I just chilled the heck out? If I slept in late and ate a chocolate cake for breakfast, if I stayed out past midnight and drank way too much? What would happen if I admitted to my colleagues that I sometimes have politically incorrect thoughts? Would my life fall apart?

As 2016 comes to an end – I’ve been thinking about how I will do 2017 differently. I am learning to accept that I am “enough” as I am, I don’t have to be a domestic goddess or a supermum or a corporate high-flyer or even politically correct all the time.

I can just be me, a woman who is fulfilling all those roles in her own way, and to best of her ability and without the need to be “superwoman”. And that will have to be enough for everyone else too.


Philippa Moss

Philippa Moss is a HIV activist, professional feminist and best known for her outspoken voice promoting healthy public policy and healthy urban development. Philippa has been a happy resident of Canberra for the past 17 years. Originally from Sydney, she came to Canberra at a pivotal stage in her life. She is a proud mother of two children, a son and daughter in their teens/twenties, who as a Queer parent has always felt a part of Canberra’s greater Lesbian, Gay and Queer community. She was recently appointed the Executive Director of the AIDS Action Council (ACT), after acting in the role for the past two years. In 2015 she was awarded the ACT Telstra Business Women’s Award for Purpose and Social Enterprise, along with the Australian Institute of Management’s Not for Profit Manager of the Year (ACT) award. More about the Author

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