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?
The Armchair Psychologist has all the answers you need!
Help! I Might Get Fired!
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
What's the best way to be prepared for a layoff? Because of the crisis, I am worried that my company is going to let me go soon, what can I do to be prepared? Is now a good time to send resumes? Should I save money? Redesign my website? Be proactive at work? Make myself non-disposable?
- Restless & Jobless
Dear Restless & Jobless,
I'm sorry that you're feeling anxious about your employment status. There are many people like yourself in this pandemic who are navigating an uncertain future, many have already lost their jobs. In my experience as a former professional recruiter for almost a decade, I always told my candidates the importance of periodically being passively on the market. This way, you'd know your worth, and you'd be able to track the market rates that may have changed over time, and sometimes even your job title which might have evolved unbeknownst to you.
This is a great time to reach out to your network, update your online professional presence (LinkedIn etc.), and send resumes. Though I'm not a fan of sending a resume blindly into a large database. Rather, talk to friends or email acquaintances and have them directly introduce you to someone who knows someone at a list of companies and people you have already researched. It's called "working closest to the dollar."
Here's a useful article with some great COVID-times employment tips; it suggests to "post ideas, articles, and other content that will attract and engage your target audience—specifically recruiters." If you're able to, try to steer away from focusing too much on the possibility of getting fired, instead spend your energy being the best you can be at work, and also actively being on the job market. Schedule as many video calls as you can, there's nothing like good ol' face-to-face meetings to get yourself on someone's radar. If your worries get the best of you, I recommend you schedule time with a qualified therapist. When you're ready, lean into that video chat and werk!
- The Armchair Psychologist
HELP! AM I A FRAUD?
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I'm an independent consultant in NYC. I just filed for unemployment, but I feel a little guilty collecting because a) I'm not looking for a job (there are none anyway) and b) the company that will pay just happens to be the one that had me file a W2 last year; I've done other 1099 work since then.
I'm sorry that you're wracked with guilt. It's admirable that your conscience is making you re-evaluate whether you are entitled to "burden the system" so to speak as a state's unemployment funds can run low. Shame researchers, like Dr. Brené Brown, believe that the difference between shame and guilt is that shame is often rooted in the self/self-worth and is often destructive whereas guilt is based on one's behavior and compels us to do better. "I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it's holding something we've done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort."
Your guilt sounds like a healthy problem. Many people feel guilty about collecting unemployment benefits because of how they were raised and the assumption that it's akin to "seeking charity." You're entitled to your unemployment benefits, and it was paid into a fund for you by your employer with your own blood, sweat, and tears. Also, you aren't committing an illegal act. The benefits are there to relieve you in times when circumstances prevent you from having a job. Each state may vary, but the NY State Department of Labor requires that you are actively job searching. The Cares Act which was passed in March 2020 also may provide some relief. I recommend that you collect the relief you need but to be sure that you meet the criteria by actively searching for a job just in case anyone will hire you.
- The Armchair Psychologist