In a recent interview Kirstie Allsopp told The Daily Telegraph that had she had a daughter she would have told her, “Darling, do you know what? Don’t go to university. Start work straight after school, stay at home, save up your deposit – I’ll help you, let’s get you into a flat. And then we can find you a nice boyfriend and you can have a baby by the time you’re 27.” It seemed like a throwaway comment, given because Kirstie wants to encourage women not to wait as long as she did to have kids (she had her two sons at 35 and 37) but for me, and many other young women my age, it was pretty damaging.
For, with just six months to go until my 27th birthday, reading the article bought on an all too familiar panic. The same panic felt by many women of my generation that we’re never doing the right thing. If you focus on relationships and having fun you’re missing your opportunity to become the next Susan Wojciki (the female CEO of Youtube, just FYI); if you focus on your career there’s a high chance you may become a barren cat lady in later life.
Basically, you can’t win. It’s a dilemma facing my generation on a daily basis having grown up believing we could have everything only to realise that the economic situation in Britain (thanks recession) has made that pretty difficult.
Olivia felt panicked after reading Kirstie's comments [Instagram]
Having recently decided to go freelance and being single, ie, I haven’t found myself a ‘nice boyfriend’ yet, my focus is currently very much on my career and I’m fine with that. Or I was fine with that, until I read Kirstie’s comments and started to wonder if I’d made the right choice. Should I actually be spending less time writing articles and more time searching the streets (or the internet, it’s 2014) for a potential partner? Should I stop spending my money on Prosecco and start really focusing on getting myself a flat? Was that degree I did a complete waste of time? Most of all I couldn’t help but think, WHAT IF IT’S ALL TOO LATE? Many of my friends think the same.
See for me, Kirstie’s comments were as damaging as when Sheryl Sandberg told us all to “Lean In” because they put a huge amount of pressure on me, and other women, to do something. And it doesn’t matter if that something is being a CEO or being a mother: when someone tells you what you should be doing in life you can’t help but feel a burning sense of ‘achievement shaming’ if haven’t quite got there yet.
And what Kirstie doesn’t seem to realise is that just like getting to the top in your dream career, babies and getting on the property ladder don’t just happen by a certain age – unless you’re rich enough to buy your way there. In a world where women are constantly torn between career and family, family and career, maybe the focus should be a little more on supporting women whatever they choose to do, rather than defining one path for all?
PS. Kirstie, if you’re reading this, seeing as you don’t have a daughter, if you wanted to give me the money for her flat, I wouldn’t say no. You could think of it as an early 27th birthday present.