A Letter to the Girl Who Thinks She’s Superwoman

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Dear Superwoman,

Have you taken a breath today? I mean really, truly, stopped and just breathed? No? I figured. Do it now for me. Inhale deep and slowly exhale. Feels good, right? Now I want you to listen very closely. I’m going to say things you don’t want to hear. But you need to.

Perfect is a word you’ve so desperately strived for all your life. You’ve carefully set so many things into motion and if everything goes according to plan, it all works out. But, what if it doesn’t? Do you know how to be okay not being perfect? Have you learned your limits yet? Have you learned when to say when? When to say no?

I didn’t think so. Because I’m her too. And when the waves beat against the ship too hard, I don’t turn around and retrace my steps like I should. I don’t find that easier path. I continue on, feeling the burden of my choices, of handling too much, and pray to God that I don’t end up washed ashore. And I know you are right there with me.

When was the last time you did something for yourself? When was the last time you relaxed? Did you always feel the need to be this way? When did you become the person who puts too much on her shoulders, who says yes to everything? When did you stop thinking of your own well-being?

It’s okay to ask for help. It’s a scary thought, not being all you hoped you could be. I know. But asking for help, and accepting that help, is just as hard as going at it alone. You weren’t made to be a superhero.

I was in a development session with my mentor, telling her about how overwhelmed I was when I learned my mom’s cancer came back and she turned to me and said, “You’ve got to let go of the Superwoman complex.” I didn’t understand her at first, but the more she spoke, the more I realized that she was right. “You can’t be one hundred percent all the time. You can’t expect to be perfect. You have to take care of yourself before you take care of everyone else.”

She was right. Being superwoman has negative effects on your mental and emotional health. How are you supposed to help others when you’re barely holding it together? You just can’t. You have to be brave, and bold, and say, “No. I can’t help you with that,” and “I’d love to but I don’t have capacity for that,” and, most importantly, you have to learn to say “I’m having a hard time. I could use some help,” and then actually let them help you.

You can be Superwoman sometimes. You can be the girl who can conquer anything. But don’t let the fear of not being perfect, keep you from taking care of yourself. You can’t do it all. And that’s okay.

Yours truly. XO

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27 COMMENTS

  1. Epepa | 12th Apr 16

    Well, I think it’s good to learn like yourself and take it easy sometimes, just life for the moment 🙂

  2. siniciliya | 12th Apr 16

    I did inhale deep and I had shivers on my skin. This is exactly what I (another superwoman in this world) needed.

  3. chantae | 13th Apr 16

    Beautiful! It’s good to slow down for a minute and not get carried away with being perfection obsessed. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Alina Popescu | 13th Apr 16

    I really should read this a few times a week 😀 Maybe then I learn how to take a real break. I always set up impossible goals and tasks for myself and have to actively work on toning them down.

  5. Bernard Tan | 13th Apr 16

    I totally agree that you cant be perfect. We tend to be actively seeking to be perfect and close to perfect. We need to give ourselves some break. Thanks for sharing!

    • Katie Karambelas | 14th Apr 16

      Totally agree. If we don’t give ourselves a break, who will??

  6. Genesis Blue Davies | 13th Apr 16

    This definitely reached me. Especially right now when I’m struggling to be everything for everyone and it’s not always easy to remember that it’s best to focus on myself first sometimes or I’ll burn out and be of no use to anyone. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. Juliana W | 13th Apr 16

    Working on myself is something I’m definitely working on too. Sometimes it’s so hard to say no to people’s requests, but learning to do so makes you SO much more centered with yourself.

    • Katie Karambelas | 14th Apr 16

      You can’t do everything for everyone without getting burnt out. Glad to hear you’re working on it too!

  8. Divorced in Your 20s: 6 Reasons Why You're Not a Failure - Writing & Wanderlust | 14th Apr 16

    […] Learned When to Say When- If you’ve read my previous post, you know that I have the “Superwoman Complex.” This is something that so many woman […]

  9. Ann | 14th Apr 16

    I can definitely relate to this post. As a college student who’s trying to do ten million things all at once, and perfectly as well, sometimes I stretch myself a bit too much. Then I get to the point where I’m overwhelmed and just relieved when I have any sort of break. It’s important to remember to take time for yourself, not for your career, not for your friends, just yourself. Most don’t realise how important that is.

    • Katie Karambelas | 14th Apr 16

      Completely agree. Glad to hear you’re learning to take care of yourself!

  10. Nikki Celine | 14th Apr 16

    🙂 love this! I struggle with this a lot. I always take on too much and put a lot of pressure on myself. I suppose I need to learn it’s OK to say no. Or leave something till I’ve got enough time! Focus on the most important things. Excellent reminder to look after myself so I can look after others!

  11. Evanne Allen | 14th Apr 16

    Totally agree! We all need to take a deep breath sometimes and accept a helping hand.

  12. Kaja | 15th Apr 16

    its a very good idea to write a letter like that, i think its really important to feel good with ourselves. we should leart to take it easy sometimes and not to force ourselves as much as we usually do

  13. Sanket D. | 16th Apr 16

    slow down once in a while! treat yourself to something nice, watch a favorite movie, read a book that moves you deep down. know that you’re loved and respected, have a good night’s sleep, and then dive right back into the madness that our lives are. you’re doing alright, Katie! Don’t fret 🙂

  14. Danielle Markley (@GalivanTheGlobe) | 16th Apr 16

    Didn’t realize I was a perfectionist until I got so burnt out in life last year. I thought I could do/handle everything. But this article is a good dose of reality 🙂

  15. Liz | 17th Apr 16

    Great prose! This is something everyone needs to remember every now and then. Sometimes we get caught up with all the things we THINK we need to do — we just have to stop sometimes and learn to have fun again. 🙂

  16. violetaloredana | 17th Apr 16

    Interesting letter – though i think a superwoman can have time for herself as well. I stay at home and raise my 4 year old son, I take care of the dog, do almost everything around the house – husband travels on a weekly basis – AND I work – a lot (several sites and blogs of my own, plus my work for my clients). That does not mean that I don’t have time for myself, that I don’t relax, etc. But yes, it can be often something to lose from mind 🙂

  17. Miriam Ernst | 17th Apr 16

    I am doing 3 jobs at the same time, while travelling as much as I can and still try to see all my friends on the way, I understand you so well! However I have learned to say no to things and to not get upset if something doesn’t go right at all time, I wish you the strength to accept it too! good luck superwomen 😉

  18. carrie | 19th Apr 16

    I think we all feel the need to be superwoman at one point or another. It’s good sometimes, but even superwoman is just a regular person at times 🙂

  19. Cai Dominguez- Travelosyo | 19th Apr 16

    Thanks for reminding that no one is perfect and take life easily. This both applicable not only for women but for everyone. Breath! And take it slow 🙂

  20. Jeane Louise Mainit | 23rd Apr 16

    Thanks for this wonderful post, Katie. I really wish I could somehow take a break from all my responsibilities. You see, I am a bread winner and I guess I had forgotten how to take it slowly. I really appreciate how you motivate your readers with your blog post. 🙂

  21. Lori Hil (@lorihil) | 29th Jun 16

    So lovely! Sharing on my 5 Gifts To Give Yourself Page https://www.facebook.com/5GiftsToGiveYourself/

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