The place where I work had a company-wide meeting this morning in which several promotions were announced from a stage. One of the people being promoted was a woman I've gone up against several times over the years. We're about the same age. We used to be freelance writers on the same account. After I turned down a staff position, she slid into it and has spent the past eight years rising through ranks.
Today, she was promoted again. As I watched her from my crappy seat in the crowd (behind a group assistant with really big hair) I wondered if my staying freelance was worth it. I fancy I'm at least as good, if not better than she is and if I'd gone staff, that might be me up on stage in a trendy dress and serious jewelry glittering under lights, graciously acknowledging applause from (envious) colleagues.
She has two kids years younger than mine and I wonder about what her title has cost her: the missed dinners and bedtimes, school events attended by cell phone, rare sightings of her kids in golden afternoon light. (We chat in the ladies.) She has good help and a participatory husband and seems harried but happy with the choices she's made. But what about when the kids go to college? Will she wish she'd made different decisions?