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Working alongside my mother and mentor, Beatriz Cirera

How Do You Do It All?

By Marina Ilari

I

have long lost count of the number of people who have approached me to ask me the million-dollar question: “How do you do it all?” They say, “You seem to be doing so many things, with work, volunteering, writing, reading, presenting, taking care of your family, and even playing video games! How do you have time to do it all?”

I have realized that while trying so hard to “do it all,” saying “yes” to something means I am saying “no”’ to something else. If I accept that speaking engagement, I will miss trick-or-treating with my kids. If I travel to my friends’ wedding, I will not be able to attend a client’s conference. If I stay up late playing Fortnite with my friends, I will not get a good night’s sleep. Tradeoffs are everywhere; that is the cruel truth. You cannot do everything and be everywhere at the same time. You will need to choose — wisely, I hope.

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Learning what, how, and when to choose is perhaps the greatest challenge, but having well-established priorities helps. For me, missing family milestones, like birthdays and graduations, is non-negotiable. Being there to support a friend during a difficult time, or during a celebratory time, is extremely important to me as well. For everything else, I decide on a case-by-case basis, but I try to do it in a thoughtful way — because, let’s face it, we are not in Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Projecting that you can, indeed, do everything is a dangerous practice. Sure, everyone wants to feel like Wonder Woman. In fact, I used to rejoice in people comparing me to a superhero. But the truth is you are doing society, especially women, a disservice. Women who seem to be “doing it all” usually have a lot of help, be it economically, socially, emotionally, or professionally. I personally have a big support system, as both my family and my husband’s family are very involved in our lives and help us take care of our kids. During the years, I have had domestic help to keep up the house, an au pair to help me with the kids’ weekly schedule, and therapists to help me navigate emotionally difficult times — not to mention the number of things I am able to delegate at work with consultants and people from my team. I could not be doing everything that I do — heck, I could not even be writing this article — if I did not have that help!

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When we see images of superwomen doing it all, being successful in their professions and in their personal lives, it is important to stop ourselves from believing that narrative and gain perspective. Perhaps they are indeed remarkable people and have accomplished great things, but what did they have to sacrifice in order to do that? What did they say no to in order to say yes to something else? What help have they had along the way? Social media has done quite a bit of damage to our self-esteem in projecting picture-perfect lives and focusing on showcasing only the pleasures and accomplishments.

Now, whenever people ask me how I manage to do it all, I answer that I do not. I do not do it all. I have tradeoffs, and I have help. And what I encourage people to do is to think hard and honestly about where they want to be spending their precious time. Being able to answer the million-dollar question with, “I don’t do it all, but I do my best to do the things that make me happy,” is the ultimate win.

By answering this question honestly, I hope we can inspire women to go after what they want to do, without thinking that they need special superpowers to do it.

Marina Ilari is a certified English-Spanish translator and CEO at Terra Translations. Ilari is a Women in Games Ambassador, Women in Localization Marketing Manager, and co-host of the “En pantuflas” podcast.

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