A new haircut, a book and death are making me rethink my life

ChangesThis certainly wasn’t what I planned on writing about this week.

But, it’s 3:45 a.m. and I don’t feel like writing about all the awesome family events happening in the city this weekend.

Frankly, this weekend sucked. I’m sick and my grandfather died.

I’ve also stepped out of character and am actually reading the book club (reading optional, wine drinking mandatory) book and holy hell it’s stressing me out.

So what you’re reading  is pretty much an episode of insomnia/early midlife crisis/cold-meds rambling.

A couple of weeks ago someone on Twitter asked the question,

How has parenthood changed you?

I didn’t answer because at the time I had no clue and was more in the mood for bad TV than self-reflection. This week, the answer has suddenly become clearer for three seemingly unrelated reasons: I dyed my hair red, I’m reading Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In,  and I lost someone I care about.

My new hair colour got me thinking about how I seem to be braver since having a kid. I don’t mean in a I’m going to skydive, live in the jungle and take up tight rope walking kind of way. I mean I take more personal risks. In the last three years I’ve gotten involved in non-profit work, started this blog, developed new interests, became more adventurous with my looks and met new people. Parenthood is a journey filled with self-doubt and I was determined to find balance as a mom. In the process, I unexpectedly found  more confidence.

But, not in all facets of life.

Sandberg’s book has slapped me with the startling realization that the opposite is true in terms of my career.

I have a great job that I like and am very good at. I work with good people, I’ve done some cool things and I have lots of time left for my kid, my partner and other interests. I’m certain of all that. I imagine that to most, I seem quite successful. However, in the last four years I’ve done little to move forward professionally. I have lots of ideas but I take fewer risks and show less ambition.

What happened?

I passed it off as a desire to achieve work/life balance, prioritize my daughter  and work to live, not live to work. If that was entirely true all would be fine and to some extent it is, but it’s more than that. It’s partly because I’m afraid to lean in.

The book talks about women in positions of leadership, the gender imbalances in the workplace and the mistakes woman make in terms of their career. Some of the statistics on how women perceive themselves and are perceived by others professionally are startling and hit home hard. The truth is, I’ve been making excuses when it comes to my career, underestimating my abilities and not stepping outside my comfort zone to take on new responsibilities and leadership because I’m afraid of failure and what others will think, which according to Sandberg, is common.

Where is all that confidence and risk-taking when I step into the office? Lately, in the office, parenthood has given me a shield to hide behind rather than face my insecurities.

I’ve spent so much time working on my achievements outside of work and and not enough time working on my professional self.

It’s all overwhelming.

I’m already seeing how gender stereotypes are playing into my little girl’s life and I want to show her that women can be smart and powerful. I want her to be a strong leader in all areas of life and that means I should try to be one too. I want that for her…and for me.

Furthermore, the death of my grandpapa, my last living grandparent, meant a generational shift that has made me all too aware that time is passing quickly, too quickly.

And being sick has quelled my productivity during a time when there’s suddenly so much to be done.

Both have made me moody and pensive.

Hence the insomnia.

Beyond finishing the book club book I’m not sure what the next steps are but I know I need to take them, and as I sit here unable to sleep, watching the sun come up, I’m starting to have some ideas…

  5 comments for “A new haircut, a book and death are making me rethink my life

  1. May 30 at 10:27 pm

    Thanks everyone for the kind words and perspective. Plus, sometimes things are much better in the morning :) My book club is going to be discussing the book this weekend and I’m really looking forward to hearing what others have to say.

  2. May 29 at 6:50 am

    I had sent a reply but it didn’t get there…
    The gist of my inspired note was women are so smart,juggling work ,home,play,husbands,sometimes we forget about the most important person yourself.
    Work is only a small part of the BIG scheme and today too many women are focusing on their work and their home life suffers,take inventory now and then and be sure the scales are balanced ….you can always find work but family now is now,tomorrow will be different and reflect what went on yesterday.
    So sorry to hear about your grandfather…death a part of life is one of the most painful…

  3. May 27 at 2:25 pm

    Such a thoughtful post. I’m so sorry to hear about your grandfather. I have not yet read ‘Lean In’ but am intrigued. I think sometimes it’s okay to sit back and enjoy where you’re at in life for a bit without worrying about whether you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing. I know I struggle with the ‘need to live my dreams’ and the desire to just be content.

    Lot’s of food for thought…

  4. May 27 at 12:23 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about your grandfather died. No wonder you aren’t feeling very well.

    I think Lean In is striking chords with many women. And that’s all I can really say until I read it for myself. But yes, even hearing the concept had me wondering if I’d stepped back after going through cancer, and now wanting to have a family. Yeah, I probably have in some ways, maybe not in others. But whether it’s a good or bad thing, I’m not quite sure yet!

    Thanks for letting me know about the post.

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