Monday, June 4, 2012

I Have a Life

So I know most of my posts are focused on the romance of all this. Girl goes on vacation, girl meets boy, girl throws caution to the wind quits her job and moves to the Islands. Obviously there is a bit more too it than that - I'm not what one would consider "irresponsible" or a "flake." So today, I am going to focus on some of the events that happened professionally over a very long period of time that helped feed this decision. The biggest - was the fact that I had gotten to the point in my professional career that if you weren't in digital marketing, I didn't necessarily get to see you no matter how close a friend you were. The problem was not and is not restricted to me. It's a problem that happens across all of corporate america and I recently heard two core aspects of the problem addressed - once in the Wall Street Journal and once in Cheryl Sandburg's HBS speech.

See I had two things working against my ability to "have a life." I'm a woman, and I am single. I know many of my former employers if you read this may think that it's not accurate - but I assure you, it is. It's not done consciously, I don't think, but it happens. Yes I was career focused - I loved what I did - I still do - but the hours, the pressure and the expectations were not conducive to having a life.

Growing up in digital, I didn't have a Cheryl Sandburg - I wish I did. I applaud her for not being afraid to be a woman and not being afraid to leave work at a reasonable hour - and to now actually TALK about it - bravo. What I had was a lot men in roles that I aspired to have. Almost all my direct peers were men and let's face it - you can't be in the boys club if you are woman. So I hung with the boys but you, I was a girl. So when i was tough I was a bitch, and when I was successful it was because I was sleeping with my boss. I have NEVER slept with any of my bosses and never took things like that as more than jealousy - but it happened. A LOT. That's was the big challenge of being a woman - you begin to feel that's all normal. Again, I was not fortunate enough to have a female mentor. And those kinds of things wear on you. 

Then there was the "being single" thing. You see, my time outside of the office was somehow not as valuable as others because I did not have a family to go home to at night. I heard this from more than one employer. Now I know that when you have children you can't leave them home alone - so I'm not saying that. BUT there were so many times when stuff was assigned to me because a peer couldn't do it. Conferences that started on weekends, meetings across country, projects that had to be done on Monday that popped up Friday late. All often ended up getting dumped on me. In the last 18 years I have missed friends weddings, broadway shows where I had bought tickets, vacations where I worked the entire time or cancelled because  - well it's not like having a kid. No it's not but it doesn't make it right. 

People just expected me to jump in, and I did because you had to do the "little extra." So I saw friendships deteriorate because of it and the time that I spent with my family diminish and I started to resent this type of work. I was tired, very tired and I didn't even realize it for a while. Now here's where my fiance comes into play. When he first met my parents we were having dinner and the usual questions were being fired around. At one point he said something to the effect "i love what I do so I don't really work - I am living my dream." At that point I had quit my job, but I was considering other roles that would have been even bigger and even more demanding. I wanted that - I wanted a life. So now I think I have one. 

I'm not saying not to work hard or expect folks to pay their dues and put in the hours - especially in digital. It's just that we all have things to do, and because one is a woman or doesn't have children, doesn't mean their time is less valuable. 

I'm sure this post may be controversial to some of you. But it is reality. So I ask this of those of you reading this in power positions - think before you consistently ask that person without a "family" to work late or skip personal obligations for work - we all need time away from work. And if you happen to be a woman - mentor other women. There are not enough great women executives out there - but I am sure there are many that could be.

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