Here I am in Boston to attend the College of Law Practice Management‘s Futures Conference; set to be inducted as a Fellow this evening. Being welcomed as a Fellow in this organization is a reflection of my career, my contributions to the legal industry, and an incredible honor. I look around the room, and read about my fellow Fellows, and I am humbled. I also wonder: “Do they know who they just confirmed?”
Is My Impostor Syndrome Showing?
It’s not a secret that I am a recovering alcoholic. I’ve been sober for more than 30 years (ugh … that’s a long time).
I’m also married to my high school sweetheart.
I have two great kids.
We take great vacations and have stuff.
From the outside looking in, for all intents and purposes, I have a sweet life. And I do.
And yet, I still compare my insides to your outsides and struggle with insecurities.
I have friends on Facebook who live lives I wish I lived:
- They are stay-at-home moms who have had the privilege of raising their children (I had a nanny)
- They have beautiful homes (I am stuck in my condo, FOREVER, because I am priced out of both upgrading and down-sizing in the crazy LA market)
- They are celebrating 25+ years of marriage (let’s just say I have trust issues that have impacted my relationships through the years)
- They take the most exotic vacations (we go where the time-share will take us)
- They have impressive college and post-baccalaureate credentials (If I knew how great my college was I’d never have applied …. and with that GPA, there was no way I was getting into a Tier-1 law school)
- Their careers seem to be spectacular (legal marketing … how’d that happen??)
Happy smiles. Happy people. Not always.
And then my friend’s daughter succumbs to her fight with cystic-fibrosis, and I watch from Boston as another friend buries her teenage son, a victim of the opioid crisis our country is facing. I speak with another friend who confides in me about what’s really going on with their family, their careers, beyond their smiles and laughter.
And I look at my life and I wonder why I struggle to find my place in it all? Why can I not be perfectly happy in my imperfect life?
So what is this post about? It’s a bit of me sharing with you that my life is not perfect. That I have my personal demons. That my family too faces daily struggles. That with all I have, I cannot find perfect peace.
The post is a reminder to me to stop comparing my insides to your outsides. To be content, satisfied, and secure in where I am today.
As most of us on social media, what you see of me is what I choose for you to see. It’s a filtered version of my life with the rough edges blended out so that my flaws are less pronounced.
My Filtered Life – A Few Truth Bombs
My kids and husband don’t always get along; something many blended families face, and I have guilt about that. I become paralyzed with being in the middle, not because I don’t want to take sides, but because I see all sides, and that can lead to conflict with my husband and with my kids.
My daughter and I have had a distance between us for several years. I can blame it on the “teen years,” but my personality is a lot to blame. I’m a control freak in many ways, and how I process information leads me to make analytical decisions when I should just go with my gut and my EQ.
My son came out transgender about a year and a half ago and my brain is still processing it. It leads me to pause when I shouldn’t pause. Say kid instead of son. Don’t get me wrong, I love my son and fully support his journey … I just pause at times, and I wish I didn’t.
The Sports Dude’s health issues from some years ago really impacted his career. Sure he’s freelancing, but trying to find a permanent job when you’re in your 50s in his industry has been beyond challenging and frustrating. It takes its toll on him, me, and us.
My career, while having been incredible, and something I am so grateful for, isn’t what I had planned. As a control freak, this isn’t easy for me. I stepped away from the AmLaw 100 so I could have a “work-life balance,” but now that the kids are almost raised, I’m just wondering what if I hadn’t stepped away, and what my next step should be? Once again, don’t get me wrong, my firm is awesome and I have great projects in process and on the horizon, but my “the grass is always greener” eye comes out when I see what you are doing and what you have accomplished.
And while I have 30 years of continuous sobriety, it’s not been like this for some of the other addicts in my family. There have been those late-night phone calls and rambling text messages. Overdoses. Near-deaths. But for the grace of …. no. Just seconds and inches separates my family from my friend who buried her son this week.
Taking Care of My Lawn
Which brings me to greener pastures. There’s a line out there I heard “in the rooms” that says, “The reason the other guy’s grass is greener is that he’s taken care of his lawn.”
So what can I do to take care of my lawn?
First step is to stop comparing my lawn, my life, my family, my kids, my career, my car, my stuff to yours. I have to always remind myself that I do not have any insight into what goes on between the four walls of your home, or between your ears. We are all fighting our own demons, and I for one need to shine some light in there from time to time, and clean house.
I need to always remember something I tell the women I work with … grow where you are planted.
Right now, I’m planted in LA, and in my firm, and in my community. I need to take my pack off and “be here now.”
Will it always be like this? No. I really want to live on a country road and have a front porch and a back yard to grow herbs and vegetables. I want to live in a small town, near a big city with lots of green around me.
I don’t know if or when these things will happen. I just know if I do the work where I need to do the work, the results will happen and take me where I’m supposed to be, even if it’s not what I expected. Isn’t that how I got here? Why do I always forget this?
What does ANY of this have to do with legal marketing or the business of law?
It’s all about leadership. The first “module” of my leadership curriculum is self-awareness. The more we are able to step back and get a 360* view of ourselves the better we are as leaders, and we are all leaders.
Tonight as I am inducted as a COLPM Fellow I will stand up there in my party dress, Sports Dude in his new tuxedo, and we will take pictures and smile, and post them to social media (after curating them, of course). I will receive lots of likes and congratulations. I will get some new followers on LinkedIn and Twitter.
I will also take posed and candid pictures with friends whose careers I envy, and I will fight my impostor syndrome when meeting some of my Fellows whose careers I follow. And in my head I will wonder if my dress is too tight, or my hair looks right, and when did I start to look exactly like my mother? Am I starting to look my age? My shoes, however, rock, so we don’t have to go there.
And I will take a deep breath and exhale and remember that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. That I am perfectly imperfect. That I have earned my place; my journey is mine, and your journey is yours. And it’s all okay. My grass is green enough.