Friday, November 25, 2011

Why I Like Being the Age That I Am

Recently, I attended an event called “Girls in Tech”.  Four women in their mid-twenties talked about how they had each started their businesses which have all been quite successful.  They had created “start-ups” from the very beginning and had worked extremely hard over the last few years.  There was no question these were very successful women in the world of business.
Though I was in awe of their accomplishments, there was a little something that bothered me. There was this pervasive feeling among these women that other women had abandoned them.  Most of these entrepreneurs had graduated from Harvard or Stanford Business school and they were lamenting how their female peers from business school had stopped working or were working on a more low key level to have a more balanced life with their families.
One of the women was basically disgusted and suggested that she would never give up what she is doing or lessen her duties for her potential spouse or children.  She KNEW what she was going to do and how she was going to do it.  Oddly enough, there was no talk of how difficult it can be for women these days to find flexibility and balance in their juggling of work and family.
A decade ago, her comments would have really annoyed me.  I would have stood up and told her not to judge other women for their choices when she has no idea what they are dealing with and that she has no idea what is ahead for her.  
But, I am a little older now and, believe it or not, calmer.
What I heard from the dogmatic entrepreneur was “I know it all”.  What I know now is I know one thing for sure:  I don’t know it all.
What I feel comfortable saying from my “years” of experience living is that I was one of those women in my mid-twenties and now I am not.  I knew it all or thought I did. Now, I know that many things happen in life that you don’t expect and you didn’t plan for and that you learn to deal with them.  I know that other people have that happen as well, so you can’t really judge other people’s decisions because you have no idea what is behind those decisions, not to mention, those choices are theirs and not yours.
What was fascinating to me was hearing the tech women speak with such certainty about how they will live their lives and how others “should” be.  It was also very freeing to know that you really don’t know what is ahead and living your own life less dogmatically and also judging others less harshly feels a lot more peaceful. 
In the end, I am very happy to be the age that I am and to know that I have learned some important lessons along the way.