Women in Their 20’s Dealing With Anxiety

In an Ally McBeal episode:

Ally: “Why do you think that women feel the need to be married anyway?”

Renee: “Society drills it into us that women should be married. Society drills it into us that smart people should have careers. Society drills it into us that women should have children and mothers should stay at home. And society condemns the working mother who doesn’t stay at home. So what chance do we really have when society keeps on drilling us?

Ally:”We can change it, Renee. . . . I plan to change it! I just want to get married first.”

A young woman recently told a therapist she was having problems with “anxiety.” In the conversation, the therapist mentioned that in her generation women went to college to get their “Mrs.” The young woman looked at her blankly, having no idea what she was talking about, not getting the reference. The therapist said, “You know, to find a husband, to get married.” The idea was so foreign to the young woman, she had trouble comprehending.

“That’s not what’s happening now,” she said. “I have to go to college, get a degree, and be good at what I choose to do. Otherwise I won’t make it.”

The therapist asked, “What do you mean– ‘make it’?”

“Well, you know, have a career, make lots of money.”

“And what else?”

“Get married and have children, of course.”

They then entered into a discussion about the kinds of pressures young women in their 20’s experience.

They (we) live in a time of increased production and consumption
–faster, better, smarter, more power.

They have increased access to information
–information the media moguls decide to produce.

They are bombarded by how they are supposed to look, what they are supposed to eat, what to wear, how to keep fit, where to be seen
–the computer-generated “perfect” female image.

Then the young woman said that many of her friends, ranging in age from 21-29, were also experiencing different versions of what they call “anxiety.” Why were she and her friends having this particular experience? The woman and the therapist thought that perhaps these young women, who go to college to get degrees in biology, psychology, film, communications, anthropology (not to get their Mrs.), are horribly affected by the pressures enumerated. These women are supposed to have a career, find a partner, make money, have a life. Do it all. Do it now. Responding to all of these expectations is, of course, impossible. And what happens when women see how impossible it is?
They experience anxiety.

Although single men may not experience the degree of pressure to get married and have children that women do, expectation is something they have to deal with as well. They are also subjected to the expectation to do it all and do it now. For both men and women who stay single, unless they have entered an alternative life in which marriage is not the expectation, the pressure can continue throughout life. James, a 48-year-old architect, reports that 80% of the clients he works with ask about his marital status and wonder what the problem is that keeps him unmarried!


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