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