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Is There A Scarlet Letter Across Your Chest?

su·per·wom·anˈso͞opərˌwo͝omən/noun informal

  1. a woman with exceptional strength or ability, especially one who successfully manages a career and raising a family brings up children, and has a full-time job. an exceptional woman; especially : a woman who succeeds in having a career and raising a family

If you are wondering which scarlet letter I am referring to, it's the curvaceous one. Yes, I am referring to the infamous "S" that so many of us (women) wear across our chest...also known as Superwoman! Just in case you didn't know it, Superwoman is a real superhero.

She's not a character on the big screen. Superwoman is everywhere. There is a Superwoman in the workplace. Some are your close friends or family. We see them every day. We know them. We love them. You may be one of them! I know I am!

I often hear, "Aginah, you're Superwoman/Supermom. I don't know how you do it!" Usually, I just take the comment in stride and keep it moving. But there was something different about the acknowledgment that I received about being a Superwoman, yesterday. I was engaged in conversation with a woman who works in my office building. During our conversation, she told me that she often talks about me to her fiancé. She said "I told Tommy that there's a young lady who works in my building and she's amazing. I told him, you're smart. You're pretty. You're always so pleasant. You're always running to a meeting AND you're the boss. And even after you leave work, you are doing stuff with your three children...and you're doing it on your own." Hearing someone (who really isn't close to me) share their views of me, felt a little odd.

There was a moment when I began thinking...How many of us really enjoy wearing the "S" on our chest? Is the "S" really a badge of honor or is it the proverbial scarlet letter? Why do we attempt to juggle so many things? What are we attempting to prove? What are we gaining by wearing this "S" across our chest? And more importantly, how is wearing the "S" across our chest affecting our mental, spiritual, and physical well-being?

I certainly hadn't considered the toll that being a Superwoman has taken on my mental, spiritual, and physical well-being. I hadn't given my busy life a second thought. I just simply do what I do, without any additional thought. Initially I didn't think of myself as a "Superwoman", until I heard countless people refer to me as such. At some point, I sort of embraced it. Everyone's perception became my reality.

Regardless of other people's perception, I think it's important that we take time to access our role as Superwoman. Some of us may not realize that we are a Superwoman. In case you aren't certain of whether your day-to-day activities qualify to be placed in the category of "Superwoman", you may find this brief quiz useful.

You may be a superwoman if the following applies:

  1. You have a full-time job, in addition to a few additional jobs (on the side); just because.

  2. You have #1 referenced above, and a husband, partner or serious significant other...or you're single.

  3. You have #1, and children.

  4. You have #1, #2, and children.

  5. You have any of the above (#1 through #4), and an aging parent or dependent family member to care for.

  6. You have any of the above and no nanny nor housekeeper.

  7. Know, off the top of your head, all of the medical issues, conditions and allergies of any member of # 2 through #5.

  8. You are the primary person responsible for performing household duties, such as shopping, laundry, meal preparation, cleaning, etc.

  9. You are on an aggressive promotion track.

  10. Try desperately to cram 36 hours into a 24-hour day.

  11. Have a full set of tools and boast the ability to make household repairs after watching a You Tube video.

  12. Possess the ability to change your own tire; understand why the engine light on your dashboard might be illuminated; or what to do when the throttle body housing is misfiring, and how to negotiate those repairs with a mechanic.

  13. Are the go-to person for any problem. 

  14. Take the time to help friends through their problems, despite the urgencies your own.

  15. Feel a great deal of guilt when you do anything for yourself.

If you can claim at least three of the above, you might be a Superwoman.  If you can claim all 15, you might be a "stressed-out" Superwoman! You may need to take some time to sit down, reflect and relax. If you're always tending to the needs of others or your plate is overflowing, you are probably neglecting yourself. If that's the case, make sure that you focus on yourself, rejuvenate and keep all of the pieces in place, so you'll continue to be great!

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