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?
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.