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How a layoff taught me to ‘have it all’ on my own terms

Krishna Davenport-Francis

When I was in my 20s I didn’t give any thought to what “having it all” meant. For me, it was simple: I had my new Wall Street career, boyfriend and a designer bag — or two or three. I was free. I traveled. I drank — a lot — and lived my life.

As 30 crept up on me, and my life began to center around family, the thought of having it all as a career woman, mom, wife and all-around badass became like a bell ringing in my ears every hour. The media spent so much time telling women like me it was indeed possible to have it all from Monday to Wednesday, only to turn around on Thursday to say, “Just kidding. Not really.”

It was exhausting!

Even more so when the men I worked with decided to let me know I needed to choose between my family and their silly cry-baby antics. I wish I had a dollar for every time my old manager told me that in order to be better at my job, I needed to have drinks after work (with a bunch of people I already didn’t like, him included. Ugh!).

For a long time, I struggled with this concept because I didn’t want to live any part of my life at just 40 percent. I wasn’t even sure if it actually applied to me. When I expressed this to women in my circle, I was often greeted with a pretty epic side-eye. See, it wasn’t anything other than that I passed the societal litmus test for what women should have in life.

My life was summed up in a few check boxes:

  • Thriving career
  • Husband
  • House
  • Two children

I wasn’t sure about it, especially since that checklist neglected to mention if I was happy. Then, on Nov. 15, my entire life came to an anxiety driven standstill in the form of a layoff. It didn’t matter that I had another job in the works — which I turned down — or that I still had three of the four criteria on lock.

I no longer had it all, and everyone around me was freaking out! I answered, “Krishna what are you going to do now?” so often that it started to seep into my conscious. I began to feel sad and depressed. I spent the first two months in bed reading to my 2-year-old son, trying to find some semblance of my normal life.

I didn’t know what that was anymore

It took a visit to my Nana and her no-nonsense glory to get me back to my “ah-ha” moment. She reminded me that I’ve always defined my own path, and nothing needed to change because I was at home with my family. I listened to her, took a quick survey of my life and realized I still had it all.

My anxiety attacks subsided

I wasn’t missing critical moments in my children’s lives, and my husband and I had rekindled our love for each other as friends. I wasn’t building anything new, I was simply improving on what I had already been doing. I was growing. No longer in a rush, I had time to enjoy life; and that is absolutely the definition of truly having it all.

As I write this, I’m sitting at my desk in an office run by a woman who understands all of this. She is paying me to manage her book at a stress-free level. I still get to have breakfast with my boys before sending them off to school, and even then I have time for a nice cup’a alone. Hey 2015, you taught me that that having it all is possible — but it’s also done on my terms. Thank you for that!

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