Create a Life You Love

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How to quiet outside voices so you can finally hear your own.

Create A Life You Love

How “good” women are supposed to live their lives.

How "good" women are supposed to live their lives.
I'm Stephanie May Wilson!

I'm an author and podcaster and my specialty is helping women navigate big decisions, life transitions — creating lives they love.

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Create A Life You Love: Comes out on April 30th!

The trickiest thing about The Everything Era isn’t just that we’re making rapid-fire decisions that will determine the trajectory of our lives – but also that we have to make these decisions in front of an audience. 

The decisions we’re making during these years (career, marriage, motherhood, and more!) are so life-changing, so public, that many of us find ourselves surrounded by spectators, critics, backseat drivers, and couch-cushion coaches.

These are the people who pry into your life, the unsolicited advice givers, and the ones who like to start sentences by saying, “You know, when I was your age . . . .”

And this is all made so much worse by the fact that there's still this cultural insistence that there’s something wrong with you if your life doesn’t look a certain way by a certain time—a pressure that crescendos for women in this defining decade-ish.

(Yes Aunt Sharon, I know you were married with three kids by the time you were my age. No, I'm still not seeing anyone special. Yes, I hear you that I'm not getting any younger.)

What did this look like for women of previous generations?

I've spent the last 10 years wrestling with these big life decisions and the pressure that comes with them and the last two years writing a book about it all, and along the way, I started to wonder what these years have looked like for the generations of women who have gone before us, because I realized I didn't actually know.

The more I’ve learned about women’s history, the more I understand why our lives look the way they do today.

(That's why I'm SO excited about this week's podcast episode! Girls Night #245 — Why Women's History is Changing My Life!)

Vintage women's history photograph

The Woman Question:

The question of how women are to spend these years of their lives (specifically, their reproductive years) has been hotly debated (mostly by men) for centuries. There’s even a name for it, if you can believe it: The Woman Question.

I’m not kidding.

“The Woman Question” (originally posed in French as the “querelle des femmes”) refers to a centuries-long debate about the nature of women.

As far back as the 1400s, scholars, doctors, politicians, writers, church leaders (almost all men!), and society as a whole have all debated about women’s rights and roles in society. The questions have included where women belong, what their place in society is, what they’re capable of—and conversely, where women shouldn’t be, what they shouldn’t be allowed to do, and what they can’t possibly be capable of.   

For most of history, women have had next to no authority over their own lives. For centuries they were lumped into a similar category as children—provided for by the men who presided over them, but having little autonomy to make decisions for themselves or about their futures. (In the United States, many banks required women to have a male co-signer before they’d approve them for a credit card or a loan—a practice that wasn’t outlawed until 1974!)  

Old newspaper advertisement with woman
I can't believe this was a real ad. 👆😡

Only a small percentage of women throughout history have had the privilege of wrestling with the question “What do I want to do with my life?” with any real options to choose from. 

When we make important decisions about our lives, we’re often deeply influenced by our historical and societal context, but it can be hard to identify all the ways that context affects us. It’s like walking in the ocean—you can’t see the undertow, but you can feel that it’s there, pushing you this way, pulling you that way, threatening to knock you over or wash you out to sea.

Similarly, when we try to make decisions about our career, marriage, and kids, we’re making those decisions with hundreds of years of precedent pulling at our ankles.

Recognizing the pressures women have been under throughout history helps me feel like I’m not alone. I’m part of a large sisterhood, and I’m honored to be.

Not only is it helpful for me to know that this pressure isn’t new—that women have always had people breathing down their necks telling them what they should do and how they should live—but also, the more I find out about the expectations placed on women throughout history, the more I understand why some of the decisions I’m trying to make in my own life today feel so heavy.

Old newspaper article about women
(I found this image recently and can't stop thinking about it. 👆😡 I make it a point to never say anything bad about my body in front of my girls (I'm trying to stop saying bad things about it altogether!) — and this has only strengthened my resolve.

What we're “supposed to” do with our lives:

The answer to The Woman Question until very recently was that women should be a wife, a mom, and a homemaker. That’s been the definition of success, our prescribed role as women for hundreds of years. 

Old article with woman
Wow. For me? Thanks. 🙄”

And for many women, this expectation still stands today. In many circles, these ideals aren’t just general guidelines or preferences—they’re moral and spiritual dogma.

While these expectations fit some women like their favorite gardening gloves, they fit other women like shapewear that’s a size too small—you can squeeze into them for a while, but three bites into dinner and you’re seriously considering ditching them in the ladies’ room trash can (not that any of us have ever done such a thing 😉).

For generations, these expectations have squashed the life out of many women. They’ve forced them to be someone they’re not, to take on roles they don’t want to take, and to live lives that don’t fit.

In a lot of circles, the expectations for women have changed, but that hasn’t necessarily made life easier. In an attempt to spring women from the kitchen, from their homes, and from the roles and responsibilities of motherhood, in some parts of society the pendulum has swung all the way to the other side. Women who want to be a wife and a mom and be in charge of the enormous responsibility of keeping a family and a household going — they’re told that their dreams aren’t good enough. They should “want more for themselves.”

This leaves a different group of women feeling locked out of their lives. They want to be married, they want to have children, and they genuinely don’t want to work outside the home. But now they feel like they have to. Once again, women are being pushed into lives that don’t fit who they are or what they want.

Other women (like me!) find themselves in the middle. They grew up hearing they could be anything they wanted, and now they’re paralyzed by the feeling that if they can do anything, they should do everything. (That’s called “balance,” right?) and they’re exhausted.

This is exhausting:

This is all exhausting. The decisions we face during these years are important and complicated and not only do we have hundreds of years of historical precedent of what it means to be a good woman yanking at our ankles as we try to make them, today, we have so many more options than any generation of women before us, it can sometimes feel like we’re building the plane as we’re flying it.

And as we do this — as we try to figure out who we are and who we want to be and what we want to do with our lives and who we want to spend them with — the very last thing we need to hear is that we’re falling behind — that we’re doing it wrong.

And so that's why I've made it my mission to say — as loudly and as often as I possibly can — that you're not doing it wrong. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible to do it “wrong.” 

Here’s what I mean by that… 

There's not one right way to build a life:

As someone who’s just on the other side of her Everything Era, I've spent the last 10 years working hard to identify what’s important to me and creating a life I’m proud of, that I’m excited to wake up to each day, a life that looks and feels like ME, and now I’m on a mission to help women build the same for themselves — not a life that looks like me, but a life that looks like THEM. 

And here’s the most important thing I always tell them:

✨There’s not one right way to build a life. ✨

Let me say that differently: a beautiful life is not one-size-fits-all. You get to decide who you want to be and what kind of life you want to live, and there’s not one right way to do that. 

Now, this is tricky because even the most independent thinkers among us still feel the pull of historical precedent and societal expectations. Even if you decide that you don’t want to get married, or have kids, or have a traditional 9-5, or buy a house — you’re likely going to spend years answering questions about your unconventional choices yourself to relatives like Aunt Sharon over Thanksgiving dinner. 

You might even have people who look at your life and tell you that you’re flat-out doing it wrong. 

But here’s a hard truth. Just because people have strong opinions about the right way to live a life doesn’t mean they’re right. It doesn’t mean their way is the only way, and it doesn’t mean it’s the only way (or the right way) for you.

The rules about what it means to live a good life can feel absolute and unbreakable. But these rules change so much based on our season of life, our zip code, the year we were born, and what’s trending on social media, which begs the question: 

👉 Are they rules or trends? 

👉 Are they doctrines or preferences? 

👉 Are they a mandate or an option?

We grow up thinking that life is a puzzle, with a right and a wrong way to put the pieces together. But the truth is, our adult lives aren’t puzzles to complete. They’re collages to create.

And here’s the best news: Once you realize there’s not one right answer and therefore no wrong answer, making decisions about your life can be an incredibly beautiful, fun, and exciting process, as you create a masterpiece and a life that’s all your own.

So how do we do this? 

Now, of course, navigating our Everything Era, battling this pressure and all these opinions, and creating a life you love — it's one thing to talk about it, it's quite another to actually do it.

There are SO many follow-up questions like:

  • Where does God come into all of this? Am I allowed to create a life I love? Shouldn't I be creating a life that God loves?

  • How do you create a life you love once you're married? (When your opinion isn't the only one that matters anymore!)

  • What do you do when the people around you (maybe even the people closest to you) disagree with the choices you're making?

  • Speaking of choices, I'm trying to make a big decision and I'm absolutely stuck!

  • Or, I can't even seem to figure out what I want in the first place!

  • Or, what happens when you know what you want in life, but no matter what you do, you just cannot seem to get it? What do you do then?

That's why I knew I had to write this book. (In the book, we talk through all of this 👆and more! )

Friends, I am so excited to FINALLY get to say that my book, Create A Life You Love, officially comes out THIS MONTH.

Create a Life You Love book by Stephanie May Wilson

It releases on April 30th, and you can pre-order a copy of it right here.

Not only can you pre-order a copy right now, but I really hope you do. Pre-ordering a book is the single most helpful thing you can do to support an author.

ALSO, I have some really fun gifts that are only available if you pre-order your copy before April 29th.

Find out what they are and pre-order your copy right here. I can't wait to share this book with you.

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