I always wanted it all, but I never knew what I really wanted.
Having it all might have meant living the dream life of a “woman", having a family and a successful career simultaneously.
I envisioned myself settling down, earning myself a successful husband that loved me unconditionally and encouraged my personal growth.
I planned to have a family no later than the age of 30. I preferred having two children, one boy and one girl. I wanted to achieve great success in my career and my plan was to reach that peak no later than the age of 35.
Well, I turned 34 this summer and to my naïve surprise, life did not go as I had planned. I have been blessed, lucky, worthy or something along those lines to have found someone that wants to experience life with me. We settled down a few years ago and I've been nesting ever since.
My “real" professional journey just started. Although I had imagined myself reaching the peak of my success around this age, I feel like I just found my professional character and the strength to serve my calling, without the fear of failure. I guess I mean that, I am more clear about what it is that I have to give, and I have become confident that it is of service to people. I am an author and business coach and I assist in the growth of individuals, teams and organizations. But the main absence in my journey has been that there is no sign of the boy and girl I had so precisely planned to have by now.
I wanted it all, but what should I have compromised? I chose my twenties to build a firm foundation for my professional career by advancing my education and build on my work experience. I dedicated myself to relationships that didn't turn out the way I expected, and my search for my “partner in life" took turns and more time than I had anticipated.
-Shocker, I know!
In the midst of everything I also had the burning desire to travel the world and experience life, while I was “young". That passion fueled me to move across the world where I eventually settled down in the city of angels. Where in the world could I have squeezed in childbearing in my “roaring twenties"?
My most fertile years had been between 19-26, and I had gone against nature by postponing having children to advance my education, career and relationships. I was told by my elders that life gets better with age, and that I have all the time in the world to achieve what I “want", but did I really have the luxury of “time?"
My age was not the only thing that was counting against me in my quest of starting a family. I was diagnosed with endometriosis about a year ago. I had suffered from this painful condition since high school, and I've had multiple surgeries to remove it but it kept coming back. The irony of this condition is that it is the cause of infertility and the cure lies within a full term pregnancy. That means that it has prevented me from getting pregnant, and the way for me to cure it is to get pregnant. Isn't that an ironic paradox? My condition has worsened with age as I had skipped my most fertile years, and I was now paying the price for trying to have “it all."
Given today's social and professional climate more and more women are delaying pregnancy. Since our most fertile years are scientifically proven to be in our 20's, then how can we match that in the society we live in today? A society that demands individualistic social and economic growth to sustain a desired and fulfilling life.
Introducing: the science of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). IVF is a type of assisted reproductive technology that, in summary, extracts eggs from a female and manually combines them with sperm samples in a laboratory. If the egg becomes fertilized, the embryos are transferred into the uterus. From there, patients wait to see if a pregnancy takes place.
Freezing eggs allows women to fulfill their dreams on their own timeline without depending on their biological clock.
IVF is in no sense traditional but it is absolutely liberating to be able to take charge of our fertility as we are tackling the challenges of society today.
Women and men should not pay the price of not being able to start a family due to the social and economic factors that we are all affected by today. What is one to do when they have not found their partner in life, or do not have the financial ability to afford a child?
What is one to do if conditions like endometriosis, fibroids or sperm deficiency detains you from naturally becoming pregnant?
Due to my condition the option of IVF has been liberating and an obvious choice to start our family. Our choice has not been easy financially, emotionally or physically. IVF has cost us about thirty thousand dollars and I am not yet pregnant. My body is literally bruised by all of the shots I have been inducing myself with. My hormones run haywire and I have to mindfully coach myself out of bitter thoughts like “why do I have to go through this" and “ how could I have prevented this from happening" and last but not least “if it was meant to be it would've happened naturally". I am putting myself through all of this because of my souls urge to feed its maternal identity.
The two reinforce each other, family and career. Family grounds me, and gives me the inspiration I need to succeed and thrive professionally.
I am ecstatic and confident to start my family at this age, with the experience and knowledge that I have today. My idea of having “it all" has become about creating a balanced life. I am mindful of my choices and try to do the best I can. I make choices with the intention of finding balance and I welcome the experience of life without anticipating the outcome or attaching it to any results. No matter what comes my way, I will be at ease.
One of the large forces in the last century of global growth, have been the rise of women. 70% of women in America work and have children, which means that women can do it all.
So if women can have it all, what do you really want? And what is the price you need to pay to have it all?
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.