Why do I judge you? Because my brand of feminism is better than yours.

We like to talk about food a lot on this blog. I hope that doesn't diminish our feminist credibility, because in the next weeks, you can expect a few posts on the topic.

Which track to take? That is the question.
Next question? How I can make the woman who took a different road feel bad about herself.
Actually, maybe that shouldn't be the question at all.

I was 18. It was midnight and my best friends were over. Katie, Ruth and I were an ambitious troupe with very clear goals. Ruth wanted to be a mother and musician. Katie wanted to be an academic. I loved opera and writing, but all I really wanted to do was go on a Mormon mission. We were eating frozen fruit as I read the central thesis of my newly written, favorite college paper ever. It was a magnum opus on a coming fourth wave of feminism that would broaden the scope of a once, narrow idea of female empowerment. The paper was good; it got an A. But the gathering foretold truths about modern womanhood that I would have never anticipated.

Today, we're riding that fourth wave of feminism I wrote about in 2002. From Hillary Clinton to Sherry Dew, Sheryl Sanberg to Sarah Palin, Susan Patton to Anne Marie Slaughter, Beyonce, Lena Dunham, Jezebel.com to FeministMormonHousewives.org, there seems to be a renewed understanding of the realities of womanhood. But it feels like the world of feminism is all Lean In vs. You Can't do It All, Ordain Women vs. I-Don't-Want-The-Priesthood, or Professional Lady vs. Parenting Warrior. In my life, the issue isn't either/or, it's achieving excellence and happiness in my path while experiencing joy in the roles of others.

I don't know of many people who stayed home with their kids while running a super successful business who became pop stars, politicians, gagillionaires, best-selling authors, astronauts, Olympians, scientists and concert pianists at the same time. Maybe I am alone in this, but if I want to be truly excellent in one thing, I need to focus. One of Paul's epistles says each of us are given different gifts. He goes onto enumerate some of the gifts: languages, healing, faith, knowledge, wisdom, discernment, the list goes on and on. I don't think this epistle was reserved for men.

Women are finally coming to terms with the vast number of acceptable and valuable occupations open to us. There are many noble professions, parenting being just one, incredibly valuable option. Happiness becomes much more difficult when we are preoccupied with expecting others to have the same skills, talents and gifts that we do. In my never-as-humble-as-it-should-be opinion, true feminism is about fulfilling our potential and encouraging others as they do the same -- regardless of their gender.

Take me and my sisters. We have as similar of a baseline as possible: same parents, same city, same gene pool and similar educations. But we're all different. Kimber is a full-time mom. I'm an artist. Liberty is a young professional. Mercina is a missionary. Glorianna is a student. I could envy Kimber's stable income, fabulous aesthetic and perfect children, Liberty's rational professionalism and effortless style, Mercina's work ethic and perfect chic, or Glorianna's Yale education, brilliance and self assurance. Sometimes, I do. But more often than not, I feel blessed by their different gifts.

Within a few years of that late night in Denver, me and my friends were living out each other's dreams. Katie was getting married. Ruth was going on a mission and I was at a top music school. It would have been easy for jealousies and envy to get in the way of friendship. Instead, something wonderful happened: I learned to experience vicarious joy in a way I never knew was possible. These days, Katie is being an amazing mother to her four kids, Ruth is a respected researcher and I am making music. We're still friends and I continue to receive a great deal of satisfaction from their successes. When we stop judging one another and focus on doing our best in the life we're living, we can experience the satisfaction that comes from doing it all without doing everything by ourselves.

What do you wish was part of the current discussion of women, womanhood and feminism?
What do you think is being overlooked? We'd love to hear your thoughts here. We might even write a post about them. Whether you're a lady or man-type, thank you for reading! We <3 you!