Thursday, March 02, 2006

Suburban v. New York Professional Woman: Part I

Could suburban women be happier than young successful professional females in New York? When I woke up this morning and headed to my appointment with Dr. C, this question was far from my mind. I was thinking a little about babies and happy family units because Wood, Dutch and Juniper ( just got in to town and Juniper is so adorable. So, so cute, and calm and sweet. Even after no sleep on the red eye! I was also thinking about yeast infections, because unfortunately my sensitive body has a mild case of the yeasties as a result of taking some antibiotics. Hence the doctor's appointment to rebalance the flora and fauna.

Dr. C takes a holistic approach to medicine and likes to sit down with her patients and hear what's going on in her patients' lives. She asked me about getting back together with Raj and whether this was a good thing, and then asked me how everything else was going. She knows that I have been struggling with depression for much of the past year, and she knows that I am (to put it mildly) unhappy in my current job. We chatted a bit and I told her that getting back together with Raj felt like a very good thing, and that with respect to my other life issues that I had been taking steps to make positive changes. In the course of our conversation, Dr. C said this:

That's good that you are thinking about these things now. Many of my patients are women, and they are going through similar situations. They are young professionals and they are unhappy. I tell all of my patients the same advice: Do what makes you happy. If you want to make a change, do it now while you are young. Don't wait. If you want to quit your job, do it now. I tell them the same thing about having kids. Do it now, while you are young. It takes courage to make a change, but I see so many women, in their 40s and 50s, who have been unhappy since their late 20s and early 30s, and once they reach 40 or 50 they have a real life crisis and they break down. They look back on their life and they cry because they are unhappy about where they're at. I can't help them because I can't even tell them they have time. Because they don't.

My stepmother believes that messages come to us continually in life, through many paths, and from often unexpected sources. She believes the problem is not that life is not showing us the paths that are open to us, but rather that we are distracted and that we don't see the messengers or hear the messages meant for us, even when it's knocking us between the eyes. I think this morning the universe sent me a message through Dr. C. The message was quite simply exactly what she said: Start doing what makes me happy, and don't delay. DO IT NOW. That's what I've been trying to do with my general detoxification/pruning quest, but it's nice to have clear confirmation that you are on the right path.

While I was thinking about what Dr. C was saying, she added that she works out of Long Island two days a week (as opposed to her Manhattan office), and she said that the suburban women are happier than most of the young professionals she sees in Manhattan. Delivered from a different messenger, say the New York Times hysterically shouting about the ovary-spinster-crisis plaguing professional women, I'm sure my reaction would have been different. I would have tuned out and immediately jumped to that space in my head that says I'm a tough successful feminist bad ass for going to law school, for succeeding, for making money at this law firm, and for being as good as, and in many cases better, than the boys.

But the message came from Dr. C, a professional women who I admire and respect, and who is unquestionably women-centered. It also came at a time when I'm a little tired of missing my family (who are developing a critical mass in Houston, Texas of all places), missing my friends and feeling the joy of seeing them again this morning, and contemplating where Raj and I will go in this relationship. It made me feel like ditching it all - the job (oh bliss!), New York's glorious craziness, the search for a job in the women's rights field where I can actually work on changing the world - for a little house with a porch near the people I love.

Of course I'm not going to do that just yet because, among other things, I'm a Capricorn and we are stubborn, tough, and practical. We don't give up easily. Maybe it's true that suburban women are as a group happier than the young professional women in cities like New York. I'd like to think that I could be a happy professional doing something else, and that it's not an either or situation. For now, I'm not ready to jump ship just yet or give up my pay check, without having somewhere to jump to. But I'm keeping in mind what Dr. C said, and I'm working on making the changes that need to be made sooner rather than later.


Bean said...

Coming from the other side, I don't make money, am married, and live on a mountain side...Only you can make changes when the right time is in your life. If you are not ready, perhaps, you are not listening to the signs and most importantly listening to your heart. Let your mind go and listen to your heart. (Like the song Listen to your heart, when he's calling for you...Listen to your heart...) Onnce you clearly listen, jump over board, just make sure you got your life jacket to stay afloat!

Denise said...

At the oh-so tender age of 46, I find myself married to a handsome banker, raising kids in one of America's most prolific suburbs. By most measurements, I should be happy. But, instead, I’m having a terrible time.

Exactly what am I doing wrong?

Buttercup said...

Denise - Perhaps you're doing nothing wrong. Why are you having a terrible time?