I saw a coworker today – the one who took the job that I did not. Yes, she is sitting in the nice office, doing important things. I see her as an authority now, because she is privy to the information I am not. I am just one of the worker bees.
You see, we both applied for the same job, a promotion within our organization. I withdrew my name before a decision could be made. She later received an offer and took the position. And sometimes I wonder why I’m not the one sitting in that office. Perhaps it is because I didn’t ‘lean in.’ Maybe I was afraid to take on the challenge. Or maybe, just maybe, I knew I wasn’t willing to make the sacrifices that came with that job.
Those sacrifices included working longer hours, being at high level staff meetings, very few social lunches during the workday, and A LOT more responsibility. And I knew that I was still planning to have another child – a reality that came much quicker than anticipated. Yes, women have held high-level roles at work and still managed to have babies. But I didn’t want that to be me. I didn’t want the stress of that role while pregnant. I didn’t want to feel pressure to return to work earlier than my allowed 12 weeks after baby arrived. And I didn’t want my first son to see mommy pulling long hours at home and thus sacrificing time with him.
My coworker doesn’t have kids, at least not yet. I don’t doubt she (or I) could have done the job even with a family at home, but it wasn’t a step I was ready to take. Sometimes I wonder what important things I would be doing if I had taken on that job, if I had been given that promotion. But I also enjoy that I have a bit more leeway to take a day off when my children are sick. I can work from home and am not missed as much as I would be if I sat in the C suite.
I decided not to lean in, and that’s ok. Do I ever second-guess my decision – yes. Should I – probably not. I did what was best for my family and that is always worth it.