At a recent get together with friends, I got chatting with recent law school graduate who was telling me all about her upcoming professional ventures. You know, every day, run-of-the-mill type things like working at the UN and collaborating on groundbreaking human rights projects.
I was immediately intimidated.
She was smart and articulate and passionate about taking on some seriously impressive-sounding stuff, and believe me, I was there for it. It was a welcome break from my usual Saturday night of plucking dry boogers off of couch cushions and taking Buzzfeed quizzes that tell you what kind of candy bar best represents your personality.
For a brief moment, I forgot how much I missed conversations like these – interesting, provocative discussions about world politics, religion, humanitarian issues and everything in between.
I have fond, pre-kid memories of evenings just like this, where my friends and I would stand around, sip wine, shake our heads at the state of the world and decide how we would fix it. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I can escape a conversation without saying the words “please take your hand out of your pants,” or asking if anyone has seen my favourite pair of sweatpants (you know, the ones without the hole in the crotch?).
As this latest wave of nostalgia receded back towards the ocean of my enlightened, wine-soaked youth, it left me exposed. I was certain she could see right through me. I was certain she knew.
I could almost hear her mocking me.
This girl has no idea what I’m talking about, does she? Does she even know what the UN is?
She was of course, doing nothing of the sort, but my inner critic was raging.
Keep nodding your head, dummy. You’re out of your depth. Maybe you can contribute something meaningful to this conversation if she happens to ask which brand of diapers to avoid if you’re concerned about blowouts.
Later that evening after wrestling my children to bed, I collapsed with a generous glass of wine to further obsess about how unremarkable I’d become.
It bothered me. It bothered me because other than having passed the bar, I used to be her. I used to be worldly, ambitious, impassioned and well-rested. Once upon a time, I wanted to change the world, too. I wanted to do something meaningful with my life.
You already are.
Suddenly, my inner critic was back. But this time, she was taking it easy on me. She had a few more reminders up her sleeve too, in case I’d forgotten who the hell I was.
1. Remember that you created life, you magnificent specimen. It’s truly amazing that women ever become pregnant at all, given the immense obstacles life has to overcome just for conception to occur. For most of us each month, our bodies know exactly what to do to prepare to create and sustain an entire human being. I’d like to see a law degree do that.
2. You also nurtured the hell out of that adorable little parasite, for many, many months. And you didn’t complain once! Just kidding. Maybe your pregnancy was beautiful and flawless, but maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was painful and terrifying and it brought you to the brink of collapse several times, but you did whatever it took to make sure that baby had a fighting chance. That is some warrior shit right there, and don’t you forget it.
3. You birthed an actual baby with your body. Speaking of warrior shit, whether you grunted your beautiful babe earthside via a warm tub surrounded by peaceful jungle noises, or willingly went under the knife in order to help them into this world safely, you are nothing short of a god damn soldier who deserves an entire fleet named after you.
4. You gave yourself up, happily. Your body was no longer yours, let alone your time. You were pulled in a million different directions, and it was exhausting beyond comprehension. You were shattered, but life in pieces never felt more whole.
5. You battled the darkness, and won. That doesn’t mean every day still wasn’t a fight. Some days, it still comes down to the eleventh hour.
6. You’re raising the next generation of world-changers, and that’s heavy. You don’t have to scroll through many headlines in the recent months to understand just how important – and crucial – this job is. It’s not for the weak, and you know it.
It took me a while, but I realized that my job is also pretty damn groundbreaking. Maybe even revolutionary.
I may not be standing at the threshold of the UN about to change the world.
But I’m where I am meant to be right now – at home, shaping its future.
And to me, that is a hell of a lot more exciting.