I think I'm buckling under the pressure I'm putting on myself to figure out my career while trying to have a baby. I keep thinking that it has already been over seven months since I was let go by Paul Hastings and that should be more than enough time to have figured out my career direction, studied the ins and outs of this new career, and written the great American novel. Since I failed my two attempts at having a kid, I should at least have succeeded in that, right?
Instead, I've barely gotten started. I am only now starting to become comfortable with the idea of giving up my career as a lawyer. Maybe it sounds shocking that I'm not long past this. It's not the job but the security that comes with it that I find hard to let go. But it dawns on me (belatedly) that this security is no longer a given, not just because of the state of the economy, but because I've been booted out. To survive as a lawyer at my level, I have to be willing to fight like a shark, and I can muster neither the motivation nor the energy. Frankly, the idea of working again as a full time litigator fills me with dread. When I see listings on craigslist.com or law.com for litigator positions, I find myself articulating reasons why the position would not work for me.
There are times when I regret having spent the past ten years working as a lawyer. The Obama's and the Michelle Rhee's of this world make me feel like I've spent my time so poorly. I keep thinking of where I would be had I invested the past 10 years working on my writing instead. Yeah, maybe no Pulitzer Prize to my name, but at least I could be writing professionally and have some by-lines to point to. And who's to say that I would not have succeeded? I'm not sure how some people nurture the confidence to forge ahead in the face of unlikely odds, but I would surely like to have some of that rub off on me.
I spent an inordinate amount of time in college fretting about my career. Too earnestly, I believed in the importance of one's life work, the product that sums up your human effort, ideals, values. At the same time, I struggled with the need to create a sense of security in our family. Our immigrant way of living in the US - with no relatives and few friends - felt so vulnerable, and I obsessed over the fear that my parents - who worked in a dry cleaner and had no health insurance - would be stricken with cancer. And for some reason, I thought the solution to finding our family's security and redeeming my parents' decision to live such difficult lives in the US rested entirely on my shoulders. Talk about being self-absorbed.
So I talked myself into law school. I told myself a lot of things. Knowing the law empowers you. It will give me a sense of authority. I'll make good money.
And all those things happened. And lots of other good things, like meeting some incredible people along the way, learning how to write and think precisely, learning some discipline, working on some fun, high-profile cases.
But it still does not feel like enough. I keep thinking about how I am using up the limited days of my life. I have some skepticism toward people who blindly tout following one's passions because it does not take into account any practical considerations. And I don't take lightly the need to feed oneself, pay rent, have health coverage. But I am at a different place in my life now than when I graduated from college. My parents are happily retired with a good enough nest egg. Jeff and I are financially secure, and he has been incredibly encouraging about my writing, urging me repeatedly to take the risk of going for it. And I have all the time in the world - at least for now.
So a part of me feels like I should be grateful for having had my miscarriages. It buys me time - at least for the next several months - to work on my writing, take more courses, try to get some pieces published. And I have to remind myself that seven months really isn't enough to draft up a Pulitzer Prize worthy tome, especially since I had to set aside some of that time to simmer down after the Paul Hastings dismissal, to deal with the fallouts of two miscarriages, to flail aimlessly, to do some mindless contract work, and to build up an obviously prize-worthy blog.
So here's my new mantra. Even babies get a nine month gestation period. Shouldn't I give myself at least that same amount of time to find my way into this new world?