How to Live the Life You Imagine

By Julie Lythcott-Haims

One summer evening when I was twenty-seven years old, I sat on the concrete slab porch of my house and bawled like a baby. I was living in Silicon Valley with my wonderful husband, and worked as a first year associate at a prestigious Bay Area law firm where I earned plenty of money and praise for my hard work. Yet, somehow, inexplicably, when it came to my work life (which felt like my whole life), I was miserable and had a knot in my stomach every Sunday night at the thought of going back to work the next day. To make matters worse, everyone seemed to think I had a great job, because of the money, prestige and other trappings of success that came with it. Moreover, I knew I had no right to be miserable—my parents were loving and supportive and they’d given me a great education. And with that strong foundation, I thought I’d done everything right—the right schools, activities, achievements, and now, job choice. As I sat on the cold concrete behind my house that night I tried to imagine my life as a map and then took an aerial view of it, and understood that somehow I’d ended up on the extraneous periphery of my own life. Continue reading

Women, work and wolves.

Dear Miss Matters,

I’d always heard that working in an office environment with women had the potential to be unpleasant, but until recently I’d never experienced it myself. Now, however, I’m faced with a tough situation. My former boss, who had a great deal of power over me before the company split, has done her level best to grind me down to sawdust. I started off for the company feeling terrific, but over the course of two years this woman took every available opportunity to belittle me in front of others, and to speak poorly about my clothing, hair, make up, skills, intelligence and weight to her friends and our fellow co workers when I was not present. Frankly, it hurt. A lot. I tried everything in my power to be likable and friendly, but it seemed that there was just something about me that offended my former boss to such an extent that she took to mocking even my tone of voice on the phone. I was left bewildered and sad. I was not the only one she did this to. Continue reading