In second grade, I found my best friend. She had a Superman lunch box, a center part with a low ponytail, and the most unique sneeze I had ever heard. From the minute I saw her, I was intrigued. She was the first real nonconformist I had ever met. We began getting together to play after school, then our mom's became friends too. It didn't take long for us to become inseparable. For the rest of elementary school, we were side by side.
We drifted apart a bit through junior high and high school, but began college together until we both transferred to different schools. We never fell out of touch and began growing closer and closer from college on. We both lived in Manhattan together after school, and began adulthood on either side of Central Park. She was on the East side and I was on the West, and it was just a short bus ride to each other's apartment.
She went on to get her Masters, and I moved to California. Out lives took separate turns once again, but we remained close. I pursued entertainment, and she entered the world of business and journalism. We both had daughters around the same time -- while I put my career on hold, she learned to juggle both identities. She has managed quite well, and I view her as once of the most successful women I know.
After visiting NY a few weeks ago, I came home with a bit of an identity crisis. I felt like it was time to go back into some sort of career. I had so many ideas, but I felt like I was standing at the bottom of the mountain, uncertain of which path to head up. I called my friend in NY and told her what I was feeling. Through laughter, frustration and near tears, she guided me to some clarity. She slowed me down and asked me first and foremost, what do I love. She reminded me that there is so much pressure on women today to be successful at everything we do. Despite the juggling and balancing acts we think we see some women manage, we don't see what they have to sacrifice. We also aren't always privy to the fact that having that much going on can make one feel like they are in the circus.
She helped me catch my breath, and to take one small step at a time. Once she said that I realized how many ideas I had at once, and that they were causing my head to spin. She helped me make a plan for that night, the next morning, and the rest of the week. She reminded me that although life seems to be going super fast these days, our careers still have a lot of life left in them. After more than an hour on the phone, I felt so grateful. I know what I love to do, and am going to stay clear to follow paths that remain true to that passion.
As both of our youngest children second grade this year, I can't help but feel giddy at the idea that they could be in class with a friend that they will still call a friend in their forties. I'm excited to see what happens in the next few years, for the kids, and for us.