9 Things You Don’t Need to be Happy

Being a woman in the 21st century is not a piece of cake. It wasn’t easy in 1950 or at any other time in history, either. But in 2011, in today’s universe that keeps getting bigger and faster and richer, it takes serious cojones to be a girl.

Today more than ever, women are bombarded with expectations – be beautiful, bear a baby, become a millionaire, be educated, be a good wife and please do it all while being good to the planet. So, anything else?

Never mind, don’t answer that.

Yes, there are obstacles, but I celebrate the women who break the mold and laugh at conformity. They are brave, outspoken and rather revolutionary. What is it that we girls tolerate least of all? Being told what we need to be happy.

So, I’m here to smash a few of these assumptions. I’ll do so without bearing a grudge or turning against men because I love being a woman. And in my opinion (humble as it may be), getting angry never got us anywhere other than backlash and behind where we started.

Here’s our list of things women don’t need in order to be happy:

1. A child. It’s true, our eggs get older and less viable as we age. There comes a point when we just can not have a baby, whether we have a hankerin’ for it or not. There’s no denying biology or the clock. But a childless woman is not necessarily an unhappy or devastated one. In fact it’s possible to feel quite free and fancy, sexy and spontaneous. And I can personally attest to the fact that there is absolutely no greater pleasure in my life than being an aunt to Rose and Jack. My heart explodes with love for them, but you know the catch…um, returnable.

2. A wedding. If I learned anything by watching friends and colleagues get matched, married and divorced over the past 20 years, it’s this – weddings are a great party, but mostly they just cost a mountain of money, a monstrous amount of stress and aren’t always worth their weight in white cake. Nothing costs as much, has the potential to rip families apart rather than bring them together, and is over faster than wedding night foreplay. Just elope – it’s easy, cheap and just think of all the extra time you’ll have for foreplay.

3. A diamond ring. By no means does a diamond a girl make. And anyway, a diamond is far from the best choice when it comes to sustainable stones. There are plenty of other far superior options if that’s what you need to signify your relationship status. But why wait for someone else to shower you with the shiny? I revel in my single-hood and independence and joy in shopping for a precious piece of jewelry for myself. You should, too. Especially if he can’t (or won’t) buy it for you.

4. A perfect body. Well, actually…this one would be nice. Admit it. But “perfect” is such an ugly word. We’d much rather be happy than perfect, right? Right? Actually, I don’t know many women who are completely satisfied with their physique. There’s usually a little here or there that we’d prefer to improve, but skinny is not a requirement for happy. My friends come in all shapes and sizes, and their happiness depends on deeper issues. Thinking that once we get to this place of perfect, we will have joy? We all know the answer to that one.

5. A thousand friends and followers. As in Facebook and Twitter, of course. In the beginning (when was that anyway?), I spent way too much time worrying about my worthiness in the world in relation to my number of social media connections. Come to realize, I may not be a maven but I’m worth my weight in effort and outspokenness. I do not need to meet a certain number to feel like I’ve made it. Who can be effective with that many followers, anyway? (Follow me though, really, if you aren’t already. Follow me! @kimderby77)

6. A man. Who needs one when there are plenty of gorgeous women to hang out with? Seriously, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I dated a woman for two years, and it’s fun and different (and entirely personal of course). But just sayin’. Never say never, because I did and I’m still eating my words.

7. A pair of perky breasts. Again, this would be nice and definitely more probable if we abide by number 1 above, but not necessary or impossible if not. A gorgeous, lacy and luxuriously padded bra will do the trick.

8. A soul-mate. Don’t believe in them. Never have and never will. One person who we are destined to be with forever? Silliness. Life is a random flow of crossing paths and we will probably connect with more than a few people on a deep, spiritual, other-worldly level. And if things don’t work out after truly trying, well, move on. Whoever said we should stay together for the kids, through pain and suffering, never set foot in my house growing up.

9. A partner with a low sex drive. Excuse me while I fall off my chair laughing. I hear all kinds of stories, especially from women with babies who lose interest and couldn’t be bothered. I’m terribly sorry. Seriously. But the average woman without hangups whose hormones are level and loaded should be totally driven in this department. End of story.


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22 thoughts on “9 Things You Don’t Need to be Happy

  1. Love it! Second paragraph is so spot on too! Seriously, could we add any more things to our plates? Plus, that urge to just “be the best” at everything.This article made me laugh and nod in agreement so many times.

  2. Agreed but wanted to share some weddings can be done with a conscious. We were going to elope because I once totally agreed with #2. But the family caught wind and protested. So instead we got married at a space owned by non-profit in NYC and most of the fees went to helping the homeless with HIV. Looking back, I’m glad it worked out the way it did. Though no bouquet toss. I’m not a sadist.

    1. The creepiest wedding I ever attended include a bouquet toss done by the father of the groom who said, kid you not – microphone and all – “Will all the virgins please stand for the bouquet toss.” There was an uncomfortable murmur that ran through the crowd, and he said defensively, “What?!? If you’re not married wouldn’t you be a virgin?” Cue a bunch of weirded out women in their 20s and 30s not getting out of their chairs. This was after the ceremony in which the minister actually included “sexual purity!” with great and repeated emphasis in his recounting of the bride’s many wonderful qualities for marriage. No such mention for the groom. I still squirm with discomfort when I think about that wedding. Surreal.

      1. Did they have a volcano to throw in the virgins? (I cringe for you Sara)

        I was at a wedding that did a bouquet toss which no one went up for. Finally a group of drunk women went and proceeded to tackle each other for the bouquet, eventually tearing it apart with their skirts over their head. And these were the married women in the group.

  3. I believe we don’t need anything in particular to validate our lives.
    I am who I am, I am ME and I love my life even though is not within any social norms.
    Excellent article! Loved it!

  4. Welcome, I’m the devil’s advocate:
    (1) Most 9 of these subjects (not #5)appear to be classical womanly attributions. I’m curious as to why the other side of the aisle isn’t looked at. For example, you could easily make an argument that a woman doesn’t need “A Job” to be happy, certainly along the same vein as a woman doesn’t need “A Child”.
    (2) I hope the writer doesn’t mean that you don’t need ANY of these. Certainly, if you don’t have a few, you shouldn’t feel as if you can’t be happy, and I hope that was the original intent. But living without love, children, men, nice things (jewelry), but with sex-buddies seems like a fairly lopsided existence and produces a lopsided look at the world.
    (3) Again looking at the opposite side, a counterpoint could easily be made that “High Sex Drive” is also something women don’t need. I’m critical at the fact that this article seems to imply women need a high amount of sex for happiness from various quotes.

    This article would resonate more (and thus, giving the writer a better reputation of objective reasoning) if it seemed to give credence to all walks of life and lines of reasoning.

    1. Well said Jeremy. Thanks for having the “nerve” to articulate that there might be some women who are happily “un-pc” – derive delirious plesure from my kids and hate every second of having to work outside the home. Although I have to admit the best thing about my diamond was selling it to help get me through my divorce. 🙂

  5. i disagree with #6. you’re making it sound like being gay is a choice. . like people can just easily decide to start (or stop) dating the same sex whenever they feel like it. which obviously isn’t true, and many young gay people lose their lives over it.

    1. I don’t think thats what she meant. People who consider themselves straight are sometimes attracted to people of the same sex. Being curious is natural and is in no way, meant to be an offense to gay people. Sometimes it is not about the gender but the person.

    2. I think it does sound a bit like that. I also think the writer is assuming the reader probably considers herself straight, but might not be. Not super offensive to me, as it’s a bit ambiguous, and hey, yay bisexuality, but I do find being assumed in articles to be a straight(ish)/attracted to men woman rather tiresome. I also find the cultural idea (not definitely propagated here, but perhaps implied) that every (straight) woman can get it on with a woman, also very tiresome. Because it tends in practice to relegate women-on-women to foreplay or practice or substitute in times of scarcity (actually an idea with solid historic precedence), essentially secondary to men, and also propagate the time-honoured idea that lesbians aren’t real, or aren’t real women.

  6. It’s kind of funny…I suspect that everyone has their own very personal list of things they could do without, and things they would never do without. My list of things I could do without includes the following:
    1. cellphone
    2. television reception
    3. iPad and iPod
    4. Wii
    And I SO don’t need a perfect body that I never even think about it. I live in Boca Raton, and my husband rolls his eyes as he counts the number of women he sees with breast implants when we go out to dinner, but I never even notice.

    I know a lot of happy women who are single and/or childless, but I’d never want to give up my kids or my husband; on the other hand, I’m glad that I didn’t have either until I was 38.

    And I loved my wedding–it was a fun, very creative expression of myself and my husband. Is everyone reading this already engaged in artistic expression? I’m not, so I loved the chance to choose environment, fabrics, colors, and foods. And share them with my friends.

    I think that what I’m taking away from the article is a sense of the importance of deciding what matters to _me_. Here’s my own very eclectic list of 9 Things I Couldn’t Do Without:

    1. my work
    2. my ability to sing and make music
    3. my MOMA umbrella with the blue sky inside
    4. Pippa and Daphne (children)
    5. Mark (spouse)
    6. my best friend
    7. a good hairbrush
    8. a good mattress
    9. the skills my hands have learned over the course of nearly 50 years


    1. Of course it’s her opinion. She wrote it. This is an online magazine, not the New York Times. Also, she’s not saying that these things will not help make you a happier person, of course they can make you happy. She’s saying you don’t NEED them to be happy. How liberating. I happen to be happily married with children by the way and I also have a coffee addiction, perky breasts and a low sex drive.

  7. Thank you so much for this! I recently posted that both Superwoman and Wonder Woman were both single with no kids and I’m happy I have so much in common with them!

  8. Agree with some things, but most items are debatable. A married woman can tell you that finding someone to commit with for the rest of their life is the best decision they made. You can’t assume authority on something that you are not an expert on, lest experienced. But, to each his own. I don’t have a kid yet, so I have no first-hand info on #9 but I researched on it and it does happen. I have a friend who lost interest for 3 years (right after her baby was born). It can happen to anyone- like it or not, even with those who have over the top libido. The good thing is, you can ask from your doctor medication for it (hormonal shots, estrogen-based etc).
    Good post though, I like your conviction and composition. Peace!

  9. Yes! All of this – except for the part about the soul-mate. I don’t know what I would do without the love of my life who loves me unconditionally and puts up with me no matter what. It’s good to have someone to share your life with – yes it means compromises sometimes, but true love it worth it!

  10. Hear, here – I LOVE this article. Can you hear me clapping? (not so aligned with #6 but the rest – brilliant!

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