"(Having?) Doing it All”: A Narrative Exploration of Self-Care and Well-being for Generation X Women at Midlife
Inspired by my own experiences as a woman moving through midlife, the purpose of this research was to better understand the lived experience of Generation X women. Specifically, the study investigated the relationship between self-care and well-being as the women navigate their changing bodies and negotiate, resist and/or reproduce social role expectations. Using a critical constructivist perspective and guided by the Life Course framework, this narrative study involved two reflexive, dyadic interviews with 21 Generation X women (born between 1965-1980). As part of the study, women took photographs that represented their experiences, and the images and narratives were included in the data. Use of Reissman’s (2008) narrative thematic analysis revealed four major thematic areas: (a) The Multiple Meanings of Self-Care: It’s Whatever is Important to You, (b) The Big Lie: Having Doing it All, (c) Who is she? What is this?: Changing Bodies, and (d) Navigating Self-Care: Something has to Give. Each thematic area is comprised of several subthemes that narrate the women’s experiences. Thematic areas are first presented in pastiche form, which is a representation much like a quilt that provides a weave of participants’ co-existing meanings (Ely, Vinz, Downing, & Anzul, 1997). The pastiche is then followed by written thematic analysis of the findings using verbatim quotations from participants, as well as my own personal reflections. Taken together, the findings highlight the myriad ways the social backdrop of ‘having it all’ has influenced the life experiences and well-being of these women. More precisely, findings show how the women reproduce and resist social role expectations placed on them in the practise of their self-care, and introduces the concepts of mindful connection, self-care shaming and the archetypal Crone to the self-care literature. As the experiences of Generation X women have largely been ignored in research across disciplines, this research provides important contributions to the self-care literature and its connections to well-being for women.