If you grew up in the 80’s you’ve seen the movie Dirty Dancing once or a million times…

I love the line when Johnny (Patrick Swayze) says to Mr.Houseman (Jennifer Grey/Baby’s dad) No Body Puts Baby in the Corner”. Then he whisks her away and they give the performance of a lifetime.

I love this scene because Baby was the awkward one. She was the unconventional one. She knew she wasn’t what the culture was telling her to be. This movie shows her holding onto her sense of self as she explores her purpose in the world.

Exploration of self and purpose is not a one time event – it happens all throughout your life as you change and grow.

One day you look in the mirror and an adult stares back at you. This wasn’t the way you thought things would turn out…

During your childhood there were (and still are) culture pressures that influence your choices. Yes you have more choices then your mom and grandmother but does it ever feel like an obligation to chose a career that they couldn’t? Even if that career isn’t right for you?

Before you go any further I want to say that I am grateful for the many amazing women in American and world history. Because of them women have so many rights that they didn’t have before.

Over the past 40 years the cultural pressures have taken away the one thing these rights were meant to give us – a choice. Let’s look at what’s happened in the last 40 years.

– Between 1970 and 2010 the number of women in the workforce increased by 9.2% while about the same % of men in the workforce decreased.

US Workforce by Sex 1970 to 2010

– In 1970, women received 4 year college degrees 8% less then  men but by 2013 women received 7% more degrees then men for a total increase of 26%.

4 Year Degrees 1970 to 2013

– During this time women also learned that they did not have to necessarily sacrifice being a mother and between 1975 and 2010 the % of women in the workforce, with children under the age of 5, increased by 25.2%.

Mothers w Kids

On the surface these are all good things. Women were taking advantage of the rights that were afforded to them by those who had gone before them, right?

Yes we have more opportunities today. One thing that hasn’t changed though is that cultural norms and expectations often subconsciously rob us of choice. In the 1950’s it was the women who stayed home who ostracized those who went to work. In the 1970 – 1990’s it was the women in the workforce who scolded those who wanted to stay home and not “become something”. And now it’s the women who no longer want to be the breadwinners or live the life that Corporate America requires who are chastised for not being feminist enough…

After all these years somethings don’t change. We will always have people telling us who we should be and what we should do. One thing I know for certain friend – that God did not make any of us to put us in the corner. He made us all unique with gifts, talents and abilities to shine our light in this dark world.

Decide today that no one will put you in a corner. You have a choice. What will it be?

Copyright 2015, Mary R. Miller