The other day I was chatting with a woman about what I do for work. I was explaining that I make educational videos for YouTube, that I research and write and host a show with the help of one other person (and with the growing support of research staff at the Museum). She asked what else I did, and I started talking about venturing to conferences, giving talks about science communication, about authoring a blog (blogs) and photography and developing outreach programs and social media endeavors, training interns and traveling and talking with scientists. Seeming a bit overwhelmed, she made a comment about how I was fortunate that I didn’t have a husband and children to worry about, too.
That stuck with me - the concept that I’m lucky I don’t have a family to foster and love and grow with. That I’m fortunate that I don’t have to also worry about childbearing and rearing and marital maintenance, about helping with homework and working around soccer tournaments. And to some degree, she is absolutely correct: that type of sacrifice would be detrimental to my job and work abilities.
But it is a sacrifice. And laying awake at night, or baking early in the morning because I can’t sleep, I’m troubled by the sacrifice I feel I’m forced to make. Recently I have owned up to the fact that I have sacrificed a “normal” social life. My close friends are those individuals I work with at the museum - often times they are twice my age. Social nights out are ripe with conversations about ecological balances and biodiversity. Don’t get me wrong - I love these topics and am happy to talk into all hours of the morning, provided the company is friendly and the beer is good. But part of me laments the stupid joys of early adulthood. On a personal level I find it difficult to relate to or converse with anyone my own age. Pokemon and Supernatural references are met with no understanding. I’m not saying these pop culture mentions are a make-or-break deal with friendships, but at the end of the day I wonder what happened to falling stupidly in love. And I’ve realized that it will be impossible for me to have a family of my own for perhaps another decade.
Maybe it’s just because I’m at the age where many of my high school classmates are married and starting families, but ultimately I wish I had something to foster at home. It seems a silly sacrifice to be forced to make, but I suppose I ought to own up to my decisions and realize that the world is not yet ready to accommodate career women.