Since I decided to come clean about my current state of, um, for lack of a better term, re-prioritized professional ambition, more women than I ever could have anticipated opened up to me about their similar situations. And one recurring theme in every conversation was this:
"Okay, this is gonna sound so silly BUT, if I stop working, how would anyone ever want to speak to me again? I mean, I live in fear of cocktail party small talk! What am I going to add to the conversation? Updates on my kid's soccer league? Tales of drop-off traffic jams? Captivating stories of my birthday cake Pinterest fails and the latest PTA mom drama over who stole who's favorite megaformer at Pilates class? Seriously, I can't even imagine ANYONE finding me interesting."
This struck a chord with me because I used to feel this way. This paralyzing fear of no longer being (perceived as) an interesting, intelligent, successful, smart, driven woman was a very big part of why I kept hustling the hustle to grow my career. Then, I looked around. And realized that many of the interesting, intelligent, successful, smart and driven women that I love surrounding myself with no longer work in the careers that once defined them.
By staying current, well-read and tuned in to developments in tech, social media, marketing, design and such while packing school lunches and doubling at SoulCycle, many of these women created entrepreneurial careers that suit the lifestyle they desire. Those who have opted to stay completely out of the work force don't sit at home watching daytime TV- they teach themselves new skills (FYI- YouTube, Skillshare and Lynda are great resources for this kind of thing), provide services for friends or organizations using the strengths honed via high-powered careers, devour books and current events with such voracity that they become instant experts, and so on and so forth. They figure out how to run their households, manage investments, fix plumbing, convert their lightbulbs to LED, negotiate a killer car lease, re-finance their mortgage (props to myself on that one, awwww yeah) and so on and so forth.
So, just thought I had to throw it out there: Don't convince yourself that if you stop pressing down on the gas pedal of your career with a heavy foot you are no longer going anywhere. Based on personal experience enjoying many cocktails at many parties with many amazing women over the years that there is NO correlation between career and interesting conversation.
Whether you work full time, part time or not at all, I would love to know how you all stay creatively and intellectually inspired. Share in the comments section below!