I’d done everything right, but life still went horribly wrong.
For the next 4 Saturdays, we’ll feature excerpts from DailyWorth CEO Amanda Steinberg’s new book, Worth It, available February 7th.
That’s how I felt in my late twenties. I had bottomed out financially, emotionally—everything. I’d worked myself to the bone to showcase myself as a twenty-first-century working mom, and like practically every woman I knew, I had followed what seemed like straightforward steps to building the perfect postfeminist life. First, graduate from a good college. Second, find your passion. Third, land an impressive job in the field of your chosen passion. Fourth, find a supportive spouse or partner. Fifth, invest in real estate. Sixth, have a baby. Seventh, co-sleep, breast-feed, sleep-train the baby. Eighth, post a mix of happy, hilarious, and poignant pictures on Facebook and Instagram. Ninth, transition to your old job with reduced hours or your new full-time job allowing you to work at home (so you can be a stay-at-home-full-time-working mom). Tenth, keep earning the heaps of money commensurate with ambition and education to support your household. Eleventh, become a fulfilled mom and spouse, patron of good causes, and girls’ soccer coach. Twelfth, sit throne-like on your laurels and relish self-satisfied bites of the fruits that your successful life program has produced. Cue the selfie!
I’d done everything right.
Graduated from a top college? Check. Learned the lucrative skill of computer programming? Yes, ma’am. Worked eighty-hour weeks running a series of start-ups? Sure did, sisters! I married the sweetest man and became the mother of two very loved, very young children. Plus, I was a good earner. Really good: I made well beyond six figures. From here on out, I figured, it was just a matter of coasting onto the smooth tarmac of security before officially arriving at the good life. All I had to do was to keep on making enough money to cover it. I would host fabulous dinner parties and creative playdates. My children, husband, and I would take culturally enriching vacations.
There were just a few problems with that logic. The emotional stamina and earning power required to sustain career and family was killer. Not only that, I couldn’t afford our lifestyle, worth it or not. I owed walloping tax bills from the start-up businesses I’d run. My marriage was careening over the edge. Debt led to doubt; doubt spiraled into despair. I couldn’t pull any of this off.
When it came down to it, I didn’t really understand what worth meant at all.
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