Photo by: Emily Long (Taken outside Brooklyn Industries in Chelsea, NY, NY)
“If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days” (p.94).
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Author Sylvia Plath first wrote of the idea that wanting two “mutually exclusive things at one and the same time” is what caused some women to be labeled as neurotic back in 1963 when her book, “The Bell Jar” was first published. As I reflect on our society today, I am forced to wonder how much our culture has really progressed as women are still facing similar dilemmas today as we were half a century ago.
The truth is that it is human nature for us to desire millions of things all at once: A family, a career, a home that is our own and a storybook romance are just a few examples of what some of us may want to achieve.
While it is true that desiring such things is no longer considered “neurotic”, our culture makes it increasingly difficult to attain them. Employers expect us to be available and devoted to the workplace, so we are inevitably forced to choose between being an involved parent and developing a successful career. In a society where it is almost impossible to live on only one income, women are in essence deprived of the choice of being involved in raising a family.
As a future mother, I often think about my situation. Do I give up my aspirations of a high paying, rewarding career in exchange for the luxury of raising my kids independently, without having a stranger spend most of the day caring for them? Can I even afford to stop working, or do I continue to advance in my career in an effort to secure my family’s economic well-being?
These questions are the source of my “neuroticism” and so, it seems that, “I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth, between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.”